Jingle the Elf {Wrapping Up 2014}

Posted by casey on December 30, 2014 in Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

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. Jingle14Day22Even 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! Jingle14Day23 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. Jingle14Day24 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!  Jingle14Dayxmasmorning 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! DSC_0461_edited-1 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!


A Merry Message

Posted by casey on December 25, 2014 in Holiday Fun

From Us to You, our 2014 Christmas Card.

Merry Christmas!




Checking it Twice

Posted by casey on December 22, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun

We met and mingled with Santa, so then we had to get down to business.

Santa letters.


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.

DSC_1082_edited-1A 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 DSC_1084_edited-1want (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.

photo 3

Santa, Bow & Arrow, Kitchen Please. Everett
photo 2Dear Santa, I Want a Bow & Arrow, $ Machine (aka cash register)
and a big book please. Caden

DSC_1087_edited-1They were written, decorated appropriately with stickers galore and then the finale, signed, sealed and delivered to the mail.

Check it off our list and hope Santa DSC_1091_edited-1 - Copychecks it on his twice because these two boys are convinced they have been nothing but nice.

DSC_1098_edited-1The 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!



Posted by casey on December 21, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Family, Holiday Fun, Life as I Know It

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.

DSC_0911_edited-1The look on their face alone when they heard he was coming.

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.


DSC_0790_edited-1You 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.



DSC_0797_edited-1This 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 SantaDSC_0826_edited-1c 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!


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week 3}

Posted by casey on December 21, 2014 in Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

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.Jingle14Day15

 Jingle clearly was flying in to fast from the North Pole and released his parachute to land him safely.  However that parachute happened to be Everett’s underwear.

Jingle14Day17 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.Jingle14Day21Sometimes 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.


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week Two}

Posted by casey on December 14, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

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!


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week 1}

Posted by casey on December 9, 2014 in Family, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Oh Jingle. How we all missed you. Last week was already a week full of silliness and surprises with you in the house & after your annual Snowflake breakfast the boys were ready to find you each day.

With impeccable timing on December 1st, Jingle managed to locate all of our Christmas books among the packing chaos so we could read them throughout the month and provided an always classic countdown chain to help us get to the 25th!

Caden and Everett went the the “big movie” the afternoon prior and couldn’t believe when they woke up the next day to see Jingle watching Big Hero 6 just like they did. He surely heard all of their chatter about Baymax and his super friends and had to check it out for himself.  Only a movie date with Woody & Jessie, Batman and popcorn are good enough for Jingle.

Help! Jingle is stuck in a snowglobe!  This day was fun because we got to pick up and shake the snowglobe since he was protected by the jar not to mention all the perfect for toddler sized hands snowglobe magic around him.

Not even Jingle could resist Everett’s Batman Robot so he outfitted up for the ride.

Gooooooaaaaalllll ! Or not. Sorry guys, Jingle saved that one.

Who wants to walk with the dinosaurs? We do! After all, with winter upon us we certainly want to keep our feet warm and cozy.

Trying to guess just what Jingle will do and where he will be next seems to be a daily conversation now as the morning hunt for him is on as soon as little peepers open.  Rest up Jingle, you have a couple more weeks to go!


Jingle’s 2014 Debut {Snowflake Breakfast}

Posted by casey on December 8, 2014 in Family, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

You may or may not recall our little friend Jingle the Elf who visits our home every year during the month of December.  Based on our yearly postings of his shenanigans I am going to guess that the “you may or may not recall” is more of a “you may”.

A little over a week ago Jingle kicked off the holiday season on Sunday, November 30th which was a surprise to us since that is one day earlier than he typically comes! Our guess is that he wanted Daddy to be able to be at the Snowflake Breakfast too since it was a Sunday.

The “night before Jingle” we had a little preparation.  I  told the boys that we were going to watch his movie so we would know his story before the morning {which we do each year}.  Naturally, we needed baths first so that we could be comfy, cozy during the show!

I got a little note from Jingle saying he had dropped off an early surprise to help us get ready and after looking, and looking, and looking I just couldn’t find it.  Wouldn’t you know that two nakey boys straight out of the tub found a box for each of them on our front porch!  They couldn’t believe that Jingle must have snuck right by me.

Of course Jingle would give his own jammies…I think he likes himself!  Two Jingle clad boys ate smores and happily watched “An Elf’s Story” to see how they might treat their elf and what Jingle may do.  Off to bed to get ready and wake up to,

Snowflake Breakfast!  The usual snowflake décor, Christmas plates, cups and elf hats were out and ready. Their favorite? The super special green plastic forks.  Duh.

My favorite surprise was the handcrafted metal Jingle bell you can see sitting at the top of their plates.  A candy cane handle stem and holly leaves make this red Jingle bell extra fun and festive.  If you don’t remember, our elf Jingle gives the boys a Jingle bell of some sort each year on this day to play with since they can’t pick up and play with their actual Jingle elf.  A little trade off.

With faces properly splashed with powdered sugar “snow” from the donut treats and sprinkled snow over their breakfast we read “Jingle’s book” to see him in action and remember the rules.  Caden was the expert this year remembering the rules first hand and Everett kept nodding his head in excited agreement.

Jingle seems to know that this always makes for a great welcome to his month of his mischief where we can enjoy breakfast together and have time to re-introduce him into our home before starting the day and season.

We welcome Jingle not because he “watches our every move” and makes sure we are “angels only this month” but because he is one small way we come together as a family this month in silliness and tradition.  Jingle reminds us to have fun, to be kind to one another and him, and yes, to believe in the good, the magical and the moment.  Welcome Back Jingle we are so pleased to have you!



A Feast

Posted by casey on December 4, 2014 in Family

Thanksgiving was all the things a holiday gathering typically isn’t but should be this year; calm, quiet and relatively stress free. We are beyond spoiled around the holidays because we rarely have to travel. Wahoo!  With my in-laws in town and my Dad being in Florida which I pretty much refuse to travel to over holiday traffic we get to have our normalcy and our celebration at the same time. AKA: cake and eat it too. Sorry Dad.

However, Thanksgiving is one of those “up in the air” holidays because typically my in laws actually end up traveling to Houston or the like then since Christmas is at home.  Last year, you may remember that we also did a road trip down to Austin (to see the Houston aunts/uncles/family) who were hosting at Barton Creek.  We hadn’t been down in awhile, especially for a holiday and didn’t know if we would have a new baby by this year and not be wanting to travel again.  It was delightful but with my tough first trimester and an up to the minute work schedule we decided this year we were going to stay in Dallas.  In years past we have even done Thanksgiving just the four of us at home, one year we all had the flu, very festive, and just kind of hunkered down.

This year though, Colter’s parents were also staying in Dallas and so it became an intimate family Thanksgiving reminiscent of our Sunday dinners but obviously, with all of the fixings and a beautiful set up.  We divided up some responsibilities, Carolyn taking the brunt as always and went about things with a general time frame but you know what?  With it being just us, it didn’t really matter!

Our morning was slow, cozy and filled with memories.  The boys and I watched the Macy’s Day Parade in our PJS as I worked on our apple pie and green beans.  Every year growing up my mom and I watched the parade, she loved it, and in her home, seeing that Santa at the end was the real deal, the big start to Christmas.  It was a glamorous event for her to dream about and I think some part of that dream came true when she came with me my senior year of high school to watch the parade up close and personal as I danced in it.  A very special memory.  Since it just feels wrong, it is always in the background on Thanksgiving though this year, the boys were totally into it.  “There is Dora Mommy! Look, Captain Hook is singing!  Those girls look like presents!  SPIDERMAN!!!!!”  I loved watching their faces and seeing them pick up on things in between playing games and being under my apple dropping feet.

Caden and Everett made the ultra glamorous turkey place cards.

Prepping the green beans made me think of my grandmother and snapping them from her garden as a kid.  When we were really young we always gathered the Orr family members at Grandma’s house for a big Thanksgiving feast.  She made all the dishes and one tradition which I now realize isn’t normal, is that we had birthday cake in addition to the various pies.  My Grandmother’s oldest daughter Gwen, had a birthday that always fell just around Thanksgiving.  So part of our celebration was to celebrate her.  With a deja vu filled brain I called my Grandmother to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving, remember all of the childhood times and celebrate Gwen, who we lost a couple of years ago and would have been 71 years old this year.  My grandmother is a joyful jewel who I wish I saw every, single day.  But I digress.

With the food prepped we ditched the kitchen and headed to Nonna and Pa Pa’s for some early fun, naps, munchies and of course, cooking.  Sweet Hannah dog who was in her final days with us was getting lots of love and cuddles from everyone throughout the day too. Once our two little turkeys woke up, we feasted and it donned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time that it had been just us at Thanksgiving.  We kept to our own timeline, the boys enjoyed the meal and went off to play while we continued on and all was well with our hearts and tummies.

Football, family, food and feelings of thanks.
Just the Thanksgiving this pregnant Mama needed.

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