31 December 2011

2011 Year in Review

I was in charge of putting together the family calendar this year for the grandparents and ourselves. I've tried to switch over to online calendars and calendar apps but I still like having our lives organized in concrete handwritten form.

Like most projects I tackle, I thought I could whip out the calendars in one afternoon, but of course it ended up taking me several days.

Man oh man was I happy when I finally submitted the images to the printer (and paid extra shipping to receive them by Christmas day).

The month by month pages sum up our year quite well. It will be fun to reflect on how much our babies have grown in a short year as I jot down our scheduled events in 2012.

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28 December 2011

Christmas Aftermath

Christmas happened. And it looked something like this:

We sufficiently decked the halls, but the proof will have to wait. We are busy soaking up family and holiday festivities.

23 December 2011

Pre-Christmas Happenings

Before we hit Christmas I must touch on a partial list of our pre-Christmas happenings.

In my cake pop baking marathon, I made some peppermint cake pops.


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

We delivered our simple neighbor gifts. I'm all about simplifying this year.

We paid a visit to the jolly old man (with a really tacky background). We waited in line to see him twice because Blake was heartbroken after the first time that he forgot to ask Santa if he had a Rudolph.

We saw a few different displays of holiday lights.

I got to join Blake at preschool for his Christmas party. He strategically built stairs and a landing pad for Santa on his gingerbread house.

I continue to be so impressed with his preschool. After decorating gingerbread houses, they had a magician come in to do a Christmas magic show for the children. It was hilariously right on their level. Blake turned to me several times and exclaimed, "Mom, this magic show is SO funny." He was even picked to be the special helper after jumping up with his arm practically coming out of the socket when the magician asked for a volunteer.

The magician turned sheets of tissue paper into a Santa hat.

Blake wiggled his fingers and turned the blank Frosty into a colorful Frosty.

Another night we were thoroughly entertained with Blake's Christmas program. Grandma and Grandpa flew in from Hawaii just in time to attend the performance.

Blake was thrilled to show them his classroom before the performance began.

He loves his buddy Brycen who also "starts with a B."

When the children filed onto the stage, they all had cute little Rudolph noses.

Blake waved frantically when he spotted us with smiles stretched from ear to ear.

I was happy that he actually sang all of the songs.

He hammed it up a little bit.

We were so proud of our little Rudolph.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the handmade ornaments from church and school that have started filling our tree, until I received this creation from Blake after his program. How could I throw these treasures away?

19 December 2011

Christmas Greetings 2011

Each year at the end of November it begins: my affinity with Christmas cards.

During most of the year, I let the mail pile up in our mailbox for several days before carrying it in the house and throwing away all the junk.

But not in December. Because in December I can't wait to see what treasures the mailman brings. I love to receive cards from friends and family...both who live close and far. Love it.

With all of our pre-Christmas happenings this year, I contemplated skipping Christmas cards altogether.

But then, each day when I hit the mailbox, I got lured right back in.

I thought, maybe I'm not too busy after all.

I remembered how much I love how Christmas cards freeze each year in time for our family. Someday I can line them up and laugh about our crazy styles and cry about how my babies have changed over the years.

So, I whipped up a simple-as-pie design and sent the cards out to our families and dear friends near and far. And then my heart got all warm and fuzzy when I actually dropped them off at the post office.

Because this is one tradition that in my book, cannot be skipped.

16 December 2011

Fa la la la la

I keep having this recurring dream.

I'm at Disneyland and am running from attraction to attraction. No matter how many days I am there, I always run out of time to fit in all of the rides. It's a stressful dream and I often wake up feeling a little exasperated that I didn't make it onto Indiana Jones or the Matterhorn.

Occasionally the location will change to a different amusement park like Cedar Point, but the theme is always the same. At the end of the day, no matter how fast I run, I just can't fit in all of rides.

The dream kind of feels like my life right now. Always running, never fitting in everything I want to accomplish.

Whoever wrote "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" must not have been a mother.

Let's be honest: holidays produce stress.

I've tried to simplify the "trimmings and wrappings" this year. No outside lights. No elaborate birthday party for Blake. Christmas cards that took me less that an hour to design. No homemade neighbor gifts. All Christmas presents ordered online.

And still, I have piles of clean laundry that have been sitting unfolded for five days and my average bedtime has been between 1 and 2am. In between work parties, church parties, preschool programs, Blake's birthday, gift buying, decorations, cards, teacher and neighbor appreciation, two trips only three weeks apart, preparation for the new year in Primary, and a new designing venture (more on that later), I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round and can't get off.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I have the energy to put into the whirlwhind of the holiday season. And I've enjoyed soaking up plenty of moments dreaming about Santa and Rudolph with Blake, seeing Nash's eyes light up when he spots strings of Christmas lights, and experiencing the joy of giving to the less fortunate.

But I think I'm going to welcome January with open arms.

12 December 2011

Blake's Big Day(s)

Blake was very excited to turn four.

I really wanted to throw him his first "friends" party this year, especially now that most of our relatives live far away. I held on to the party ideas that were spinning around in my head for weeks. I was even almost crazy enough to pull some all-nighters and follow through. But, in the end, with his birthday falling smack dab in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and right in between two trips for us, I finally came to terms with the fact that I couldn't pull it off (at least not in the way that I envisioned).

So, I filed away my party ideas for another year, and I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. For not being a "party year," I think Blake would agree that his birthday was still sufficiently celebrated.

We kicked off his birthday festivities by making cake pops to bring to his celebration at school.

Blake's teachers invite the parents in on each child's birthday to do an activity with the class. Naturally, I chose to teach his class yoga. 

Those preschoolers were pretty cute playing yoga games.

On Blake's actual birthday, our playgroup happened to be meeting up at a playplace. So, we made another round of cake pops and ended up having a makeshift party. It might not have been the classiest celebration ever, but Blake was absolutely thrilled to have all of his friends sing to him.

Some of his cute friends even made his day special by bringing cards and gifts (their moms overheard my griping about whirlwind December birthdays).

Back at home, we brought out special birthday decorations.

Blake requested chicken, potatoes, carrots with dip, and cake for his birthday dinner. I thought that was a feasible request. His uncles joined us for his small evening celebration.

Blake's other request was to play the balloon dart game that we played last year on his birthday. Apparently it wouldn't truly feel like his big day without incorporating this tradition.

These were my shots. Yes, my four year old son has better aim than me.

When the darts actually popped the balloons, little candy pieces fell out.

We moved on to a few small presents, under the Christmas tree of course.

Blake was sung to at least seven times on his birthday. Every time a grandparent or aunt or uncle called to wish him a happy birthday, he stated, "You have to sing to me!" He ate all of that singing right up.

In the end, the thing that Blake was most excited about was his new big bed (a necessity since Nash has been climbing out of his crib and it's time to shuffle beds). Blake was literally jumping up and down when we brought him out to the car after dinner to show him the packaged mattress set.

He was pretty darn excited about his birthday crown from preschool too. He talked about wearing the crown for weeks in advance.

After all of the celebrations, Blake asked, "Am I as tall as dad now because I'm four?" Getting close. :)

Happy fourth birthday, little man. We love you.