Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas To All

I felt very blessed this Christmas season.  A co-worker recently told me she feels like Christmas is a "check-the-box-off" holiday.  I think all of the running around and high expectations for a perfect Christmas were getting to her.  I always feel the opposite.  I love celebrating a long holiday season with things like watching the snow fly in the darkness from the comfort of our warm home, listening to endless Christmas carols on Pandora, plugging in the tree every morning and seeing more and more needles drop to the floor as Christmas Day nears, and the hyper-focus the holiday puts on family - because I love spending time at home with my little family of four.

Christmas Eve we celebrated at Rachel and Graham's house with a lovely fondue dinner for the adults while the kids snuggled in for popcorn and a movie downstairs.  Dinner sans kids was both very relaxing - it felt so luxurious to drink a glass of wine and carry on an adult conversation without being constantly interrupted by a little one or wiping noses/spills/the floor.  It also felt a bit odd not having the usual chaos the kids bring.  

A rockin' Christmas Eve 
Watching a movie
With Grandma and Grandpa Nickolay
(None of us noticed at the time but the camera picked up the pizza sauce on Hadley's face in every single picture.)
Being goofy with grandpa
These two are so cute and get along so well except when they fight over toys and hurt each  others' feelings.
The Christmas Eve young crew
Me and my pizza sauce girl
Fondue time
The boys were so hot from running around playing that they had to strip down to cool off during dessert.
Christmas morning Miles and Hadley were totally delighted that Santa made a stop at our house (Miles has been asking a lot of questions about the mechanics of our chimney though because we don't really have a real one - it's a gas fireplace).  I wish I had had my video camera first thing in the morning because the Christmas tree was lit at the end of our dark hallway and I loved the image of Miles, in the darkness framed by our gigantic tree, tiptoeing out into the family room to see what Santa brought.  Santa brought Miles a John Deere tractor and trailer.  His reaction, which we did get on video, was "this is awesome!  Cool!  Oh yeah!" Hadley got a doll which she promptly named "Baby Rylan" and has been carrying around and nurturing ever since.  Miles also got from us a Hot Wheels racetrack and Hadley a wooden birthday cake set and they both got a puppy/kitty/veterinarian set and a puppet theater.  We spent the morning exactly how Christmas mornings should be spent - in our pjs, playing with toys with wrapping paper strewn everywhere.  

Later that morning we went to church, at which both Miles and Hadley were on the verge of sleep, and to my Aunt Nancy's for a big holiday get together.  It was a wonderful Christmas and we're looking forward to continuing the joy of the season with Mike's family.  

Showing off the toys from their stockings
Miles found even further evidence that Santa visited our house - the white chocolate-dipped pretzels were gone!
Opening up his gift from Santa

Playing mama to her doll and kitty

Reading to Baby Rylan

As 2013 draws to a close I want to thank all of the loyal fans who read this blog each week.  Some I hear from often as they comment on the pictures I posted or what I wrote the week  before and others who I have no idea follow the goings-on of our family regularly (like I just discovered my Uncle Charlie reads the blog every Monday morning and gave me a hard time because I missed a few weeks!).  I've been writing this since 2009 and just surpassed 27,000 page views!  (Not a lot my today's social media standards but I don't advertise!) It brings me joy to reflect on the week and record the sweet moments of my kiddos lives - thank you for sharing in that joy with me.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas concert and snow

This week Miles performed in his Little Saints Preschool Christmas concert.  He sung four songs with his class, gave us a tour of his room, we ate a snack together, and listened to a story.  Our little man performed so well - we felt very proud of him.  He's really thriving in this preschool program, has a lot of friends, and is learning so much - we are very happy with our choice.
Singing with his class
Showing off his classroom which just got a Smart Board

We spent time this weekend doing some last minute Christmas shopping, lots of laundry, planning our Christmas meals and grocery shopping, making lasagna and chicken with roasted sweet potatoes, taking walks in the snow, dipping and sprinkling pretzels, driving around in our pjs to look at lights, doing art projects and visiting the Arboretum.

Snuggled in for the lights tour
We stopped at one house that was broadcasting a radio signal and had a light display synchronized to music.  They were handing out candy canes and Hadley literally passed out in the car after eating hers.  Notice how her face, hands, coat and Care Bear are covered in sticky, red sugar.
Enjoying the beautiful decorations, story time and a concert at the Arboretum

Listening intently to Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family Traditions

We celebrated an early Christmas with my family and extended Nickolay family this weekend.  We have many traditions - some things we've been doing for years.

We spent Saturday at my parents' house.  There is something about a baby that brings out lots of love in everyone.  Baby Rylan didn't have a moment to himself because everyone was snuggling this little cutie.

The morning began with our third annual gingerbread decorating event.  The parents of all of the kiddos still have a huge influence on the outcomes of the project and sometimes more candy and sprinkles are eaten than placed on the houses.

Everyone feels proud of their work.

This party marks the last year we will celebrate anything in this house.  After 30+ years my parents are selling the house they raised our family in and are moving on to smaller and better things.

The annual girl picture - pomegranate and prosecco drinks in hand.

The annual guy picture - toasting with a beer.

Opening stockings.

Our two pretty, matching little girls.

Me and my little brother.  It's always fun to hang out with him - too bad he doesn't live closer!  (hint, hint)

Wow - that's a lot of presents!  We actually made a conscious effort to cut way back this year. 

Lots of cooks in the kitchen preparing a dinner of appetizers.

Per tradition, I make everyone pose for a family photo.  I know at some point someone will thank me for these.

Playing so nicely with Miles' new fishing game.

We're ready to head to the KC Hall in New Prague for party number two this weekend. 

Everyone's eating the chicken and ham dinner.

Like I said - everyone's so happy holding a baby!

The littlest kids accompany my aunts Sue and Carol by ringing bells during the Christmas carol sing-along.

This year everyone took a turn pulling the strings on the pinata only to find out that old Grandpa Nickolay had all of the treats for the kids in a box next to his chair.  The pinata was empty!

Miles and Hadley with their Great-Grandpa and Great-Great Aunt Lucille.

Four generations.

I got to celebrate with all 3 of my Godsons today.  I'm a lucky lady.