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
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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!
Sometimes you get a surprise that just might make you BELIEVE.
At the beginning of December, we took our two well rested boys over to a friend’s home for a little pre-holiday gathering to kick off the post-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas season of fun and festivities. While playing outside I heard a little rumor that a special visitor was on his way to check right on in with our littles.
And then then the grins and giggles when the man in red himself showed up and bellowed a bug “Ho, Ho, Ho” right at our boys with sleigh bells in hand.
Sometimes all you need is a simple introduction.
Maybe a nice chat.
You know, just the basics, your Thanksgiving dinner, the weather, how are those reindeer, what kind of birthday party you had, what kind of birthday party your brother is going to have, your dog’s names and oh yeah…a few brief requests for Christmas surprises.
The basics right?
(Notice Everett’s priceless step -stool, Santa’s boot.)
And if you are really lucky, really, really lucky, maybe you even get a hug.
This could not have been any more perfect of a set up for our boys, it was spontaneous for them and just silly enough to believe that he might have actually heard they were there and stopped by to say hello. Santa was so nice to us all and even told the boys about his kitten back at the North Pole. Kitties name? Snowball of course.
We watched our boys go up to Santa and back up to Santa and back up to Santa as some of the wee little ones were not so delighted with his presence. They went from elated to confident, as if they were old friends, to shy when it came time to decide what Santa should bring them. Caden who has been adding to his mental Santa list for some time and was quite chatty froze up and could only manage a shoulder shrug and bashful grin as if asking for something was surely too much at all.
And just like that, the Christmas season was underway and our Santa encounter was done. We had smiles and stories at bedtime of their experience and memories of magic with the man who really does come to houses so it seems.
With homework to mail our letters just in case he forgets our chats assigned we set off to make this past month another great Christmas of celebration.
Thank you to Justin and Charlotte for having us over, what a shame it would have been to miss such a lucky surprise!
It is hard to believe that Jingle’s days with us this year are numbered as we approach the last stretch until Christmas. I think the boys’ excitement to find him grows each day as early mornings start right away with a hunt and he is a topic of conversation all day long. Where he will be and what will he be doing keep our minds actively working on the various possibilities for Jingle, our elf.
Both boys had been waiting not so patiently for our tree to get a magic star on the top of it like so many of the Christmas movies, shows, books and songs have. Lucky for them Jingle built himself a plane in the workshop and flew a star right up to the tippy top of our tree for us. I hope he still had his parachute with him just in case!
Jingle must have been feeling a little crafty while we slept because we woke up to find him completing an ornament of his own with all of the painting, gluing and sequinning materials we would need to do our own too! Nothing like a little breakfast with a side of ornament project to get the day underway! They were very happy to hang their newly created ornaments on our tree with pride precision.
It is a good thing I still find a good coloring page relaxing because this creative shenanigan had us coloring by twinkle and firelight first thing in the morning. A cozy and quiet start to the last weekend before Christmas thanks to these holiday coloring books and Jingle’s inspiration.
Oh Jingle, you know the way to our heart. A Saturday morning Starbucks delivery complete with some bread treats for the boys, perfectly portioned cups which were filled with hot cocoa and Jingle’s very own cappuccino, probably with some peppermint in it. Everett was OVER THE MOON about this morning surprise, elated that Jingle had granted him the gift of the green circle queen.Sometimes he is generous, sometimes he is busy and sometimes, sometimes, he is mischievous. Like the time he covered our kid tree in the playroom with candy canes and we caught him zip-lining in with one final candy cane. He must have known that our mom used to finish up our kid tree with us with a box of authentic tinsel and candy canes for us to throw about. Hold on tight Jingle, you have a long day to hang that way!
So there you have it, the third installment of Jingle’s time with us this year. With only a few days with us, knowing he will leave on Christmas after watching us fill with delight over what Santa hopefully delivers our way we are soaking up his contributions to our family fun. Most days the boys hunt (and find) him before we even know they are up letting us know we are entering the age and stage where we were surely be woken up at 4 AM on Christmas Day. Their glee is contagious and their memories are getting full of traditions and treats as Jingle continues his ways.
Another busy week of fun for our family as Jingle made his way around the house each morning. Caden is quite the expert “Jingle-Finder” this year making me wonder if his hiding spots are going to get any trickier!
Poor Jingle must have had a crash landing on his way back from the North Pole! He seemed to make do with some candy cane crutches, Christmas band-aids and domino splints which were all a big hit with our boys! We were sure to give him lots of rest this day so he could better and make it back to the North Pole.
Clearly Jingle didn’t want to be left out of the crew. Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael helped gear Jingle up for some Ninja lessons and boy were we surprised! Teenage Mutant Ninja Jingle!
It appears that Jingle knows how many giggles his secret sleepovers get out of our boys each year. What would you think if you woke up to find a little elf taking a snooze in your room with a blanket, pillow and snuggly like yours?!
Jingle most definitely hears Everett’s sweet requests for Jingle to rest in his room too, so after his flight back from Santa he swapped his blanket and snuggly for one just like Everett’s and tip-toed in his room under the tree to feel at home.
Choo-Choo! Who doesn’t want to go for a ride on the Polar Express is the real questions?! A Christmas tree train ride to show us one of the season’s favorite movies that we hadn’t watched yet this year.
Poor Jingle took a little spill off of the Polar Express
or Everett couldn’t resist and touched him yesterday and had to stay an extra day at the North Pole to get his magic back. It is a good thing he sent from photos from the North Pole showing that he was there and not only that, but he had delivered our letters to Santa straight from our mailbox to the jolly man himself!
I mean, there are only 11 days left Jingle, I guess you were right and we better get to baking! Since he was ready to go, and the proper attire was all laid out, cookie making at 7:00 a.m. was the only obvious option to meet this request!
Knowing Jingle always has some tricks up his little red sleeves but that he also has some family favorites like the sleepovers definitely keeps us on our toes as to what the last week and a half will hold!