Seeing him with our littles, brand new to seemingly grown never gets old.
Happiest of Father’s Day to the greatest of dads I could dream up for my boys.
An Introduction is in Order
On May 11th, 2015 at 1:58 PM
All 9 lbs 2 ounces and 21 inches of our third baby boy was born.
Introducing, Archer Perry Kazmann
This little chunk has snuggled his way right into all of our hearts making himself right at home as the newest light of our lives the moment he was born.
Looking back to 2011, I so clearly remember changing our family dynamic from three to four. So lately, I feel as though my eyes have been zooming in on and recording every bit of our final moments together as a family of four…
waiting to be five.
As a family of four, we have very much found our groove. It has been three and a half years so I suppose that should be a given, but that isn’t always the case. There are the ins and outs of keeping things “normal” while shifting and adjusting to accommodate this new little person and the new roles each person takes on.
With Everett, there was a lot of adjusting and accepting and admitting to what we could and could not do with a challenging newborn, infant and well…toddler due to all of his allergies.
Now, there is the making sure that oldest who whether he consciously remembers it or not was an only child at one point, still gets alone time and to feel like that one and only. Then there is that baby who is no longer the baby but now a big brother too still gets his snuggles, and bedtime love well, some baby time. Oh yes, and then there is the prepping for the newest little one…though somehow the third time around you know that no matter what you prep and how you organize life is about to get R.E.A.L real, real quick once he arrives.
We have found our groove and our biggest preparation is preparing to be out of that groove for a little while again as we bond and nurture and love and make room for this third little love, our newest baby brother.
We have been blessed with two very sweet boys who have settled us into being a family, being parents and have taught us what the real purpose of our life here is. I think that they are as patient with us as parents as we try (and fail) to be with them. They understand we aren’t perfect and so easily accept our apologies to them when maybe we are a little to harsh, or fall short on a promise, no matter how small. I have been amazed at their sympathy to me as I have grown and waddled and have gotten to be a slower version of their mama. Everett runs to pick up anything he can for me saying “Mommy, you just can’t do that with that big ol’ belly.” Caden will ask if I need to rest on the couch and then inform me that “You’re just so pretty when you are sleeping.” Sweetness. All for their mama who is not always so sweet and understanding to them. That is what these children give me, a reflection and a reason to continue to grow and adapt and learn.
And so we get ready to do that again. All of us are so ready to meet him. I think the boys might think he is never coming at this point, which I don’t blame them, and I wonder the same thing on occasion. But we are just ready to see who he is. What will he be? How will he teach us to love more? When will he understand his brothers’ love for him? How badly they want to know him.
All of the unknowns that you embrace and welcome as you feel their not so welcome (but contradictory grateful for) jabs to your ribs that you know you will miss even as you watch them run around. How lucky are we? But really. We hope and we try and we love and we get to help shape these little people into what we think the world needs while giving them the room to become what they think the world needs.
The Balance of Parenting
And we are about to start the process all over again.
Which means that just like that Caden and Everett will age at least five years in my eyes over the birth of their newest brother and for that, I am not ready. I spend a little extra time snuggling Everett at bedtime, breathing in the last days of him being “my baby” and every ounce of Caden that isn’t just a helper, and the biggest brother and the “you are old enough to do…” because as I know all too well now, it just goes too fast. These years that our sleep deprived brains beg to pass for some independence, predictability or organized chaos are gone just like that. In the big picture of their lives as children and our roles as parents these years are so short and so small and yet so important. And so here we are…waiting for the any moment addition to our family while breathing in and loving on every moment of our current four. The final days of what we know as we excitedly await what is in store.
My two little men enjoyed another fabulous Easter this year that they had been looking forward to in the weeks prior to the actual event. Their school had been doing a wonderful job teaching them and prepping them for what Easter is really about and each day they came home with new bible stories, songs and crafts to help us celebrate the day.
With a small egg hunt done at school we all were looking forward to the bunny celebrations of Easter as the weekend came near and they weren’t overloaded with other celebrations. You see, our boys are VERY lucky because the Easter Bunny makes two stops for them. Each year, he is so sneaky and leaves them a basket at our house full of fun and goodies and then hops his way to Nonna and Papa’s littering the garden backyard with all the eggs two little boys could desire. I just love it.
As has been the case almost each year, there was a chance of rain Easter morning. Sure enough when the boys woke up, it was already coming down and quite dreary outside. Somehow, that didn’t stop our bunny who had delivered their baskets safe and sound to our front porch under the safety of the stoop. But first, before they remembered basket potential, they had noticed and searched for a smattering of eggs they found around the kitchen and living room which that silly bunny had filled with their favorite cereals!
Sure enough after diving into their cereal eggs they recalled what the bunny had put in their baskets last year, and thanks to Daddy singing our quirky Easter Bunny song that the boys request each night year round it was off to think of where their baskets could be.
Ta-Daaaaa! Someone saw them!
That is what their faces showed. Delight.
Our Easter Bunny knows that we don’t eat a ton of sweets around here so he hooked our boys up with some surprises of their very favorite things and wishes. Almost like a mini stocking full of what their age encompasses each year – coloring book, PJs, flip flops, stretchy bugs, playdough, little readers, superhero fans, light up bouncy balls, yadda, yadda, yadda, and yes…a transformer. Because what says Happy Easter better than a robot?
At least not to the hearts of five and three year olds.
And so they unpacked, and squealed, and played, and admired, and commented, and traded, and traded back and stashed and saved, and spread out and well, I think you get it. Happy as two boys who were just spoiled by a bunny that seems to have enough magic to get these baskets full and to them. Amazing.
It was as it has been the past few years a nice little family morning, quieted by the rain but enlightened by the excitement of their spirits. They enjoyed their Easter egg cereal, some bunny shaped breakfast concoctions of mine and were set to continue on with their treasures and day. Knowing that we were going to be going to Nonna and Pa Pa’s shortly for our traditional Easter Brunch and what…egg hunt…for them…they were all geared up for the rest of the day.
With a break in the rain and sprinkling, the boys’ egg hunt was an almost immediate activity upon arrival at Nonna and Pa Pa’s. After a few bites of snacks of course. As with the house at anytime of the year, or holiday for that matter, Nonna and Pa Pa’s backyard is a picturesque location for the bunny to do his best hiding. The grass is green, the plants are full, flowers are blooming and there are plenty of nooks and crannies for stashing away those colorful finds.
The boys were so sweet talking about helping each other and how they could do teamwork and while I thought that would surely go out the window, what do you know, it didn’t. In fact, they both gave each other several eggs when they had already found one like that (Spiderman) or thought the other would like a specific color (blue in Everett’s case). It was one of those little heart-warming sibling moments for me as they dashed about but still thought of the other.
I love that the bunny spreads out the fun and Caden and Everett get to have holiday traditions and memories at both spots. They always have more than enough eggs to search for and yet still manage to miss a few and require a little coaching from Daddy and Pa Pa as they start to become sparse. The past two years it has amazed me how well they literally haul around their full buckets, sometimes teetering themselves but not willing to consider an alternative. Can’t.Slow.Down. Must. Find.Eggs.
They came, they collected and he conquered with glee but the real treat, for the second year in a row, was a live Easter Bunny spotting. Last year, on our evening walk just as we were approaching our driveway out he hopped from the bushes and into our neighbor’s yard cotton tail and all. This year, just as we were hunting, Daddy spotted him creeping in the tall grass bushes.
Thinking that he was surely about to make his mad dash to keep himself secret we got the boys attention and what do you know, he hung out for a few minutes (probably trying to best plan his escape). So the boys crept closer and closer trying to actually get a glimpse of him in his camouflaged hideout when out he came to say hello.
A perfect little Easter Bunny, showing off his skills. The boys thanked him as he hopped towards the fence and I remarked at how lucky they were that two years in a row they saw him just after he left his treats for them – what luck!
Caden watched him bound off toward the fence commenting on how much magic that little bunny must have to carry all of these things that he can barely carry and then back to a final scan of the yard and garden for any final remains of Easter fun.
They delighted in their full buckets and as a parent it was fun to watch them get to another new age and stage where they wanted to open and investigate, “But not eat Mommy, just peek.” all of their finds.
With all of the fun an family time behind us we checked off one more event that would be a last for us as a family of four. I really tried to soak up what this year looked like for us and how they interact together knowing that next year we will have an almost one year old among the bunch as well to give these two a little competition! With the boys getting to pick out one egg from their bucket after dinner each night, we might still be going through our eggs this time next year too!
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After what we all thought was our annual Texas ice storm with the bonus of an actual snowfall we were all prepped and ready to move on with our seasons because that is about as wintery as winter gets in Texas.
With the news outlets all abuzz with the “drama” of the weather that unfolded it was hard to take much of their predictions and scenarios seriously as we continued to look at the weather report. With the predicted possibility of snowing we went to bed one night and woke up to this…Colorado. Bright Colorado.
But really, it was blown up against our doors and windows, piled on the patio and in general a white winter wonderland to look at. The real beauty? No ice. Just 6-7inches of pure, fresh snow! What?!
Colter, unlike most of the working world, made it into work for a scheduled conference that was slightly delayed and he even called saying how strange it was driving in with it being so quiet out and completely and totally covered. So there you go.
Naturally, the boys didn’t mind much that Mommy had been in Labor & Delivery the day prior and wanted to go play in the snow. Everett in particular. Caden who remembered that it made him cold initially chose to stay indoors and then quickly changed his mini mind after seeing us “gear up”. Who was I to tell them we couldn’t go out again to play after the past outings when there wasn’t a spot of ice to be found?
What they discovered in another “first real snow” sort of experience is that they weren’t even cold being bundled up and running around without all of the wind and wetness that accompanies the ice. They scooped and snow angeled and romped and ran to their heart’s content. And then one of them turned the snow on Mommy in the drop of a well…shutter.
Naturally I had to waddle his direction and retaliate.
This was about the time the boys were seeing how easy this snowfall was sticking together. But not before what you can spot in the background as a little monster digging in the small snow drifts pushed up on the garage. In true little man style, scoop and toss was his favorite game of the morning.
“Watch this big one Mommy!” “See this big one Mommy?” “I’m super strong Mommy.”
Yes dear, yes you are.
It was a fabulous morning in the snow. I took a few pictures as you can see, then promptly put my camera down inside and spent the next forty five minutes simply being present and participating in their fun, which became my fun. While I originally told them I didn’t think we would be able to make another snow man without Daddy, we soon learned that this snow was the real deal and our snowman redemption from birthday day was about to come to us.
For years I have been talking of how no, you really can just roll it and it sticks like in the movies. But that never happens here…only in Ohio. Not this year my friends, not this year. While Caden was hoarding some snow-balls I saw how easily it was compacting and had him make me one. As soon as I sat down and started to roll, I knew our Snowman was going to happen and both boys got right to work rolling away. Teamwork at its finest. They rolled and I patted and shaped. The result? Two perfectly sized Caden and Everett snowmen which made for two thrilled little boys.
A success indeed. With all the usual snow activities taken care of, including Caden’s favorite, snow eating we began to wrap it up. It took a long romp before anyone wanted to go inside this day, but when they did, they were satisfied and ready for our now expected after a whopping three/four snow days hot chocolate and bunny grahams. In we went to de-gear by the door so Thrasher could delight in eating the snow off all of our clothes, de-thaw and revel in our triumph…and then sit on the couch the rest of the day so this baby would stay put. To which he did. So it was a win all way around and when you turn around to witness the snowman smooch occurring, you know that you’ve done good and their hearts and memories are full.
Whether you have been here living it, or you certainly saw it on the news, we got a bit of weather here recently like various parts of the country. At first, the normal for Texas, ice. You know it is coming at least once a year and while last year, it really did shut everything down this year the weathermen turned up the drama and really lived it up. Texas news loves a good ice storm. What resulted in a couple of days off to begin with was taken advantage of because even in the ice, we try to get out and play a bit because typically it is the closest memory these kiddos will make to snow. So as you can see, not enough to even fully cover the grass to start and out we go.
Treacherous as it can be with ice underneath and a light dusting on top, boys will still be boys. What was most enjoyable this year was watching them decide what to do with it and I don’t know how, but Caden initiated the sibling snowball fight all on his own. Boys. When in doubt, throw it.
They scooped it up, ran around, watched out dogs frolic and mod on inside to hot chocolate. Naturally. Of course we watched the snow predictions, and watched but didn’t fully expect to spend Caden’s official fifth birthday covered in large fluffy snowflakes! When it started we ran some errands which was quite the view as we expected it to come and go, but down, down, down it came.
Determined to get these boys some real snow experience, we bundled up for some more outdoor fun. Thinking it would be more ice they were a little unsure and then in my ultimate mom win of the day, I drove them to our neighborhood park for a snowy rendezvous
While Caden was a little uneasy about the temperature, watching his brother dominate the accumulating snow piles on the slides tempted him enough to do the same. Though Everett would go down on his belly and every which way giggling the whole time.
A park to ourselves filled with snow. Perfection.
You know, minus the non-waterproof gloves because we live in Texas after all so our fingers are tingly and red and numb but painful. Sacrifices.
until the weather caused his party location to close down and cancel his “Big 5 Birthday Party”. Oh. My. All fun and snow days until it ruins your par-tay.
We tried to make up for it and yes, he is still having it, so in the meantime, we waited for Daddy to come home from work so at long last he could birthday snow celebrate with us too since it was STILL COMING DOWN and did he ever.
I mean Daddies really are the best.
Especially when Mommy is huge-o preg-o and shuffling through the snow so as not to fall and have a disaster-o. With lots of rounds of stripping down clothes into the dryer they were set to finally get to show Daddy all the snow-fun they had been learning to have.
You know, all the essentials.
Like the above snowball fights.
Or a traditional angel.
Even the non-traditional belly angel was displayed.
There was the “I am Daddy hear me roar!”, snow dumps on a squealing child begging for repetition. Yes, he did it. Yes, I documented it.
Let us not forget the Texas sled.
Thank you Target Tupperware and Daddy motor.
Last but certainly not least, was the wee-snow-man lump. We gave it our best…but with a solid powder and not much moisture to compact it with this birthday snowman was as good as it was going to get, this time.
And so we took on, and in my opinion conquered the birthday snow. Thinking that this was our “big” annual snow we embraced its fun got a little frozen and happily camped out inside with puzzles and projects, movies and treats. Even with a cancelled birthday party we partied on our own and celebrated every bit of this “big 5″ boy’s actual birthday showing him that the snow itself that came down for his very own birthday was a special and rare surprise! If only we knew what was coming the following week!
But it wouldn’t be fair to Nonna and Pa Pa and all the fun we had if I didn’t at the very least share a few of my favorite pictures from their house over the holidays. Another year of joyful memories, ill healing (poor Uncle) and lots of back and forth trips from home to here to make sure we didn’t miss a beat of the fun. We treasure this time each year because from one to the next their is so much growth and change among the whole crew! The last of the last of Christmas posts…in February, but I think you will see why I just had to let you see at least a peek of grandparent love.
When all of Caden’s dreams come true and his cousins arrived in town!
The boy who stole my heart after his Daddy.
I think this one is going to make me cry in ten years when he is as tall as the tree.
All of the sudden we reached that age we have talked about for years where the kids just all kind of go somewhere and start to play. Watching them know and love each other is a really special family moment as they all just kind of love automatically.
My little loves. My favorite.
Another perfect capture of Nonna and Pa Pa’s holiday bliss.
Now that we are one month from Christmas and full in the having just moved, 5th birthday party planning, Valentine assembling, baby nesting months I decided I better get out these favorite captures from our Merry Christmas morning with the boys. Everett may or may not have come downstairs at 4 AM on Christmas morning…the end of one era and the beginning of an era. I coaxed him into going back to sleep for a couple of hours by allowing him in our bed instead of taking him back upstairs because his whispers of “Mommy, there are presents out there,” every thirty seconds made me question whether he would or not to begin with!
After Caden excitedly ran into our bedroom, up we were and so it began. The onslaught of excitement, coffee and surprises galore. First things first, Santa ate all of the cookies!!! Amazing.
Santa had left handy-dandy Santa sacks just like his, making the wrapping diminish and the ease of opening and preparing increase. This was the first year that they were drawn to their overflowing stocking firsts which was a fun sight for me because that was always a favorite of mine even into adulthood. Yes, we insisted Mom still stuff our stockings when we were in college. Bless her patience.
Using their mighty mini muscles they dragged those stockings into the living room and began pulling things out one by one declaring, “Oh, I was asking for one of these!!!” I sat back with my coffee and enjoyed their joy, occasionally snapping a picture but more often helping them tug something out or cut something open, every parent’s holiday right.
No it isn’t about the “things”, but there is something just so nice about their pure happiness and excitement over these surprises and the fact that they belong to them. Seeing your childhood memories come full circle into what will be there childhood memories and the moments together as a family that will mark our stories around the dinner table as they age. Priceless.
They were expecting wrapped items, so explaining that the Santa had stuffed their sacks took a minute to put it all together and still having a few wrapped items from others helped alleviate that mystery!
Caden had been requesting with confidence for Santa to bring him a bow and arrow like one we had given a friend for his birthday since summer when one he had, which ended up being too challenging for his size to use broke. One long wait later and both boys were ecstatically hooked up.
Thank you Santa.
While their letter wishes to Santa came true one at a time and each contraption was opened, tested and remarked upon one large wrapped gift awaited their attention in the corner.
I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the first thing they ran to, and while they did see it they were obviously distracted by all of the options. But eventually, it got its turn and was very much worth the wait. All of his little chef dreams came true in one unwrapping moment – his kitchen.
Santa must have decided that with one more bambino on the way this toy would get some use as we all witnessed Everett play with any pretend kitchen set anywhere with a focus rarely seen on his part. The imagination, determination and love you see on his face when he is whipping you up a meal is surely what convinced Santa himself that this would be on his sleigh. Here he spend the rest of the day…and weeks after…and it is still the first thing he goes to each morning. I have never been so fake fed in my life.
And so it went. We unwrapped, we played, we ate, we had a silly string fight out front and we enjoyed the quiet calmness of just the four of us on Christmas morning. I took in knowing that this was the last Christmas that we would be just us four, that this was the last Christmas in that house and with all the change coming our way embraced the morning for the mess and chaos that comes with the perfectly aged children for Christmas magic. The boys tested out everything they could making piles of this and that and trading this and that and I think for the first time not entirely overwhelmed by all that comes with so much fun.
With Santa and a nap under our belts we crossed off a successful Christmas morning off of our lists and prepared for the continued days of celebrating ahead with family as everyone trickled into town over the next week starting that afternoon.
Over the freeway and through the neighborhood to Nonna & Pa Pa’s we go!
Last week we spent our final days and sleeps in our home of seven years. While I wanted to sit down and gather my thoughts in the present as it was happening the chaos of the move itself got away from me in timing, but I made sure to lock in a few thoughts in this steel trap pregnant brain of mine…or something.
As the week progressed and the move was finally upon us one week ago, I was not feeling sad to leave the home as this has been a much anticipated and exciting move for us, but a bit nostalgic and grateful to the walls that housed us for the past seven and a half years.
We moved into our first home together fresh out of college. Technically, purchased before we were even officially out of college with our upcoming wedding on the six month horizon and our future ahead of us. Very fresh, very young, very optimistic. We are leaving that home as a soon to be family of five which in the simplest of pictures shows how much we all have grown and stretched (sometimes literally) within those walls. We leave not as fresh with some marriage and parenting experience under our belts, not quite as young but I think still young enough, and thankfully, still very optimistic.
I remember that first night in that home. Typical, movie-esque. The movers worked their tails off to get everything in and unloaded that night. Mattress on the floor as our bedroom furniture hadn’t been delivered yet, boxes pushed on each side as temporary nightstands, pizza eaten on the carpet and one ill-attempt at my taking a bath in our Jacuzzi tub which promptly blew out dirt and nastiness from the jets as soon as turned on. Rookie homeowner.
The key though, was that it was ours. All ours. Sure, it was filled primarily with hand me down furniture we had collected over our years in college from our parents’ moves and sure it was much larger than we needed at the time and everyone asked us if our parents were home when we came to the door. But it was ours and we wanted to start and have room to grow to our family there and boy, did we. Specifically boy.
That house grew us. It withstood the still new grieving of my mother, the early days of first jobs, the highs and lows of cooking experiments and many a Sundays spent all day in the den watching The Sunday Ticket with a college-style open-door policy to the guys. Many a Sunday. That house kept me safe and comfortable while my husband endured his various offshore rotations those first years and it kept us safe and comfortable as we persevered through trying to start our family together.
And then it happened.
We walked through those doors with our first baby boy almost five years ago,
a true family.
That house welcomed us in a real sense on that day, home.
I am grateful to those walls for it all. We were mostly lucky in home ownership woes over that time and we were overly lucky in growth and strength as individuals and as a family. Our cup of memories spills over the brim of landscaping mishaps, anniversary dinner at our never used dining room table, and the sounds of feet walking the floors bouncing baby boys to sleep and then little naked bottoms running circles on those same floors trying to evade bath time so they had to go to sleep. We spent picture perfect fall and spring mornings running in front yards with neighbors who fit the definition of what neighbors should be. Garage open? Got it. Cup of sugar? Got it. Dog-sitting? Got it. Pizza ordered in newborn zombie days? Got it. That dysfunctional but supportive family of people who really only crossed paths because we were neighbors.
Over this time I learned. I learned my purpose. I learned my role. I learned what I wanted and not just knew from my parents. I learned that love comes first and I learned that mama knows best. I finished up my 20s and I think in a lot of ways, I learned ME within those walls and I left it a family of four, soon to be five.
Now that is some serious growth.
So we said our goodbyes. We packed and trashed and organized and donated and wrapped and moved our lives to this new home that in every way we have and are building together. It has a new sense of future to it, a future with a picture of grown boys not just baby boys and a future of just us, a family.
We left it empty but us full. Full of gratitude for all that those walls provided us.
A Chance for Family Togetherness
The Opportunity to Grow.
If you didn’t receive our new address in our holiday card, e-mail me at
email@example.com and I will send it your way!
Christmas this year can be listed under the same adjectives that I have used in years past; busy, chaotic, memorable and mostly, magical. The boys were filled to the brim with activities, family time, stories, songs, celebrations, snuggles, treats and yes…spoils. I worked very hard this year among the final weeks of new house building prep, this house being on the market/selling and packing up to be very intentional about what I chose to do with them this year and when. Not everything all the time, but a few things when the time was right and you know what, we still made more memories and had more outing fun than I could have predicted.
Since next year we will have another new mini family member with us, embracing just our two boys this year and their perfect age for all things Christmas and magic was such an enjoyable experience as a parent. Soaking up their excitement while containing it and allowing myself to just watch them just as they are.
Christmas Eve we continued this year as a quiet night at home with just us and Nonna and Pa Pa. Since my family no longer lives here to continue that celebration we started an easy takeout approach that allows us all to have a night-off, the boys to mill about while still being together.
Since we are also spoiled to having Colter’s parents to ourselves in town it is also nice to celebrate a little with them before the family filled days are on us that we so look forward to! We wisened up this year and started allowing the boys to open gifts from extended family (so as to clear room for Santa of course) earlier that afternoon so they would have time to actually play with them as they opened.
I think we really got the hang of the timing and letting everyone just do their thing this year as their excitement started to peak after all of the counting down and waiting. The boys were amazed at the generosity of their Pop and Nana and Uncle Drew and Auntie Jess both in Florida who re-filled their toy closets with board games, movies, magnet tiles, legos and Captain America helmets. Auntie Laura in California sent them a Batmobile and oversized Imaginext dinosaur with rocket arms. Boy heaven? I think so.
Nonna and Pa Pa even brought a little pre-Christmas Day gift to help spread out the onslaught of flying wrapping paper allowing the boys to take their “Alpha Team” Hide and Seek with Daddy to a new level with some mini nerf “shooters”. So as you can tell, the big man in red has an even trickier job to carry out to get them just the right, on their list, but not overlapping surprise thanks to all of the love and showering from our families which we all SO appreciate.
The interesting tradition after the Christmas Eve opening is bringing out my family’s tradition (and many others) of new jammies just before bath-time. You never know what the reaction will be after they just opened up “fun things”. Ha! My hope is that it is a silly and sweet thing they know to depend on each year just as we did. We would go and get in the shower even as teenagers pretending to not know that Mom was going to leave a box of fresh cozy PJS for us on our bedroom floor. So for now, it is their “one last box” This year, Everett was pretty stoked, since I threw in a dinosaur/dragon robe that matched their slippers Jingle brought them.
They were perfectly precious in plaid with their robes and teddy bears more than ready to hit the hay (after reading “The Night Before Christmas” of course) so that they could at long last make it to Christmas Day. We were so impressed that they did in fact go right to sleep since there were many questions about when exactly Santa would arrive, would it be scary that he sneaks in (totally legit question by the way) and would they ever in fact get to see him.
And so just like that, the cookies were chosen and laid out, the milk was poured, the prayers were said and then the Jingle Bells of St. Nick rang over our house filling it with magic, surprises and a lot of family love.