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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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
2014 was a full year as are most but it is with a very full heart as we look back on a year that was ultimately very good to us and those we love.
Looking back at each little snapshot makes me realize yet again how quickly it all goes by as I swear each one of these very images just happened in my memory.
Time to slow down, reflect and reset for the new year ahead!
(Getting ready for the beginning of his sports career.)
(We have a four year old…and a superhero)
(The sweetest of sleepy snugglers.)
(Let the building begin!)
(Where our summer days were spent and loved.)
(seventh and final year to watch these fireworks from our front yard)
(after a vigorous round of Duck Duck Goose)
(Baby Kaz III was on the way.)
(A very queasy quick trip to the pumpkins.)
(An official three year old is in the house!)
(Merry Meetings and Magic)
Jingle’s final days with us were full of his usual funny, surprise filled antics that left us more than ready for Santa to arrive and Christmas to be celebrated together. Here is a look at Jingle’s last few days with our family during the 2014 Christmas season. Even the nutcrackers need a little help learning their ABCs for their name. Jingle to the rescue and with some name and letter practice pages for us too! Slope style Jingle might be my personal favorite appearance of his this year. I guess he was getting bored just sitting/flying/playing around so he set up his slope and got right to it. Apparently he isn’t worried about his knees like I am. Guess who has his sleigh ready for Santa’s arrival?! Jingle may have lacked reindeer but he made up for it with an efficient dinosaur pull so he could get his tree home and decorated in time. A strip of sleighbells to recognize Santa’s sound and we were all ready to open some family gifts to clear room under the tree and begin the fun! Merry Christmas Jingle! You really helped us ring in the season and continue some family traditions together this year. We love baking cookies together, doing art projects, reading books and singing songs and thanks to you, you helped guide us through the weeks to lots of family fun and silliness. We are so glad that you stick around each year on Christmas morning in your very own stocking to watch us celebrate together! Goodbye Jingle. The time came the day after Christmas to say farewell to our festive friend. From his final perch this year he waved goodbye to us and reminded us to read his story one last time so we knew he had to go back to the North Pole until next year. We gave our thanks and took one last peek and then off to bed for us and back to the North Pole for Jingle. I am sure he needs his rest after this year!
From Us to You, our 2014 Christmas Card.
We met and mingled with Santa, so then we had to get down to business.
Last year was our first official year to write letters. Caden mapped out his simple request of “Santa, Scooter please. Caden”, and Everett drew lots of pictures and stickers to be sure Santa knew of him too. This year was a little more in depth and the first year for them to both get their wants across. With two writers on our hands now, both requiring some assistance Mommy was all brain on deck going back and forth to help them spell and sort out their messages.
A few days prior the boys and I were doing our morning letter practice and they wanted to practice writing “Santa”. So, they had that part down. Caden, had requested lines on his Santa letter paper like his school papers so that he knew where to write and with a few blank papers to write out words for them to copy in front of us, crayons and stickers we were set to go.
We got our “Dear Santa” out, and then it was decision time. What did they in fact want (and in limited paper space please). They had been talking about their wishes for awhile but putting down on paper was almost too much commitment. So we chatted. As they thought out loud the same items came up and were summed up in their four and a half and three year old minds.
What I love most (and frustrated Caden at times) is their “mistakes” on their letters. The cross outs and adjustments made that really show their age and their hearts. Both boys put all of their finger strength and concentration into their letters as seen by their broken crayons and tongues sticking out!
The result? Toddler and Kid Eloquence.
The letters were sent and the waiting began but knowing that they had done their official work helped us all know what we hoped might be under our tree this very year. And if you recall from Jingle’s second week with us, we even got a little sign of why our letters weren’t in our mailbox the next morning when they ran out in PJs to check!
Jingle must have taken them to the North Pole!
Phew. I am sure glad someone is on top of it.
T-Minus two more nights left until we get our cookies and stockings ready!