Saturday, January 21, 2017

Decorating for Christmas!

The second we pull in the garage at the end of Thanksgiving break the kids are ready and eager to decorate for Christmas. We usually decorate within 24 hours of coming home .  Since Brandon has Monday's off of work he and I put up a lot of decorations while the kids are at school and they help decorate the tree at night.  We told them we had to eat and have baths before we could decorate.  They were game!

It is so sweet to watch them enjoy the things they have not seen for 11 months.  They LOVE looking at the books and toys.  

T: I still love this nativity.  M: This music box still works. 
Next came decorating.  T still wanted to put all of her ornaments together on one branch.

T: "They ornaments get lonely when they are spread out." (She actually said this)

M: I still love my airplane ornament. T: The girl on this one looks like me. 

M: Time for the dump tuck ornament. 
T: Perfect!

Decorating at home is sort of our warm-up decorating.  The first Saturday in December we decorate at church.  It is a much bigger undertaking than decorating at home, but we have such a great team of people working together that things usually get done quickly and done well.  I love seeing the church decorated at Christmas time.  It is sort of sad when everything comes down in the New Year.

Everyone knows just what to do. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend in MN

Thanksgiving weekend feels like a long time ago.  I guess it was almost two months ago.  The kids only had 1.5 days of school Thanksgiving week.  We had our annual Praise and Pie event at church on Tuesday night this year.  We have had it on Wednesday night if previous years, but Tuesday worked well for many traveling families.  I admit that the details of the weekend have run together in my mind, but I am thankful for photos to help me recall events. 


We had a pretty uneventful trip to MN if I recall correctly.  We drove straight there and possibly only stopped once or twice.  We arrived before dinner which was lovely.  The kids always want to do every fun thing they can think of in the first 30 minutes so getting there right at a meal time or right before bedtime is never fun.  They were excited to see snow on the ground.  

We ate dinner and the kids played and we relaxed and unpacked.  Dad introduced M to the game Connect Four.  He really enjoyed playing it. T was more interested in getting out every toy and making sure it still worked.  She and I did a computer race.  I think she forgets that it was a toy of my childhood and I will always dominate. 
M: Playing for real was fun, but I mainly like it when I win.
T: I couldn't wait to get my clothes off after the long car ride. 
T: Mom, how can you do that so quickly? 

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day:

The day started early.  M can never manage to sleep in when he knows he can spend time with Grandpa Daryl.  I am pretty sure they went out to the shed once his morning jobs were done.  They spent quite a bit of time in the shed.  The best part for M was starting fires in the wood burning stove. M learned how to light a match.  He was SO PROUD when he told me.  It seemed to be one of his highlights of the weekend. 

Mom and I were in full food prep mode in the morning.  We were listening to Christmas music and looking out the windows at snow.  Mom prepped a lot of the food in the days before Thanksgiving so that really helped make things run smoothly on the big day.  I mainly worked on making Gluten Free stuffing.  It wasn't the easiest recipe, but it was SO VERY TASTY.  I attempted it for the first time last year (different recipe) and the results were C- at best.  This year's batch was right up there with the best stuffing I have ever had.  Yummy!  OK, now I am craving stuffing.  

The kids were very eager to play in the snow.  It warmed up during our visit and much of the snow melted, so I am glad they played in the snow right away.  
M: It sure is fun to throw snow at Grandpa Daryl.  T:  I am going to throw snow at him too. 
M and T:  Oh no, he is throwing snow at us!
After cousin A and her family arrived we went outside (again) to get some pictures in the snow.  

Grandma and Grandpa and the kiddos.
Family Shot (T's coat became an off the shoulder number, naturally)
T: I NEEDED to stand in the sled for the photo.  
The kids were very excited to see Great Grandma B even though they struggled a bit to get a decent photo.

M and T: What?  This isn't supposed to be a silly photo?
Pretty good. 
She is a GREAT Grandma!

We took zero photos of the actual meal.  Bummer.  It was very tasty.  

Grandma B gave each of the kids some coins.  Actually she brought a container full of coins and Grandma Kathy sorted them.  It was quite entertaining to watch her sort.  T wanted to have hers with her at all times.  M was fine with storing it until we got home.  

None of them is very confident on the value of each coin so getting them to help sort was hilarious.
M: It feels great to make some money!

We also looked through some of my Grandma F's clothes.  She is still alive, but doesn't have a need for dress clothes.  T wanted every single item.  I found several skirts that fit well.  Grandma has a taste for quality so I scored some great solid color wool skirts, some still had the tags. 

T: That could totally be my style!
M: How do I look?
T: It is SUPPOSED to be long.  It fits perfectly. 

The girls did some playing together which was very sweet.  I can see their friendship blossoming in the years to come.   Some of the family snuck into the bedroom for a bit of football viewing.

M: I don't care who is playing.  I just like watching football. 
Everyone left in the late afternoon.  We had amazing leftovers and then things got a little dicey.  T started to have a rage that lasted about an hour.  It was pretty intense and draining for mother and daughter.  Thankfully M was entertained by my parents and he had an enjoyable time in their room singing Christmas carols.

M: It is really fun to sing with Grandma Kathy. 
Eventually my mom came out and distracted T with a magazine.  That helped a lot.  Once things got calmed down it was time for a cuddle and bedtime!
T: This looks like the perfect place to sleep for the night. 

Friday was very low-key.  Mom and I did some local Black Friday shopping in the morning.  I scored 3 long sleeve tops for $6.00 and got a bunch of stuff at Dollar Tree for... well... actual price.

The kids played a lot of games and really got into Outburst Jr. There were naps and a walk and lots of leftovers.  My parents went to a play that evening and the kids went to bed fairly early.  As far as I can tell we only have one photo from the day, one that M took of us.  Don't worry, we made up for the lack of photos on Saturday morning!

M: They were so cute.  I wanted to take a picture of them. 

We were so excited to check out a new children's museum right in my parents town.  We had a lot of fun.  While we waited for the museum to open, T did a little vacuuming.  It started to actually clean something up, but she had so much fun so she vacuumed for a while.

T: It was fun to see the specks get sucked right up.  

Finally it was time to go to the museum.  At first we were struck by how small it was, but the longer we were there the more I noticed how strategic everything was and I began to appreciate it more and more.  It contained so much more than I imagined.  The pics only show about 1/2 the activities, but you get the idea.  I sure wish someone in our community would spearhead something like this.  The whole project was the brainchild of one local mama. It is housed in a single store in the local mall.  What a great idea!

First up for T was the costume/stage area.  She has friends who have the horse costumes so she was eager to try it on.
T: I felt like a cowgirl princess. 
First up for M was a ball (or angry bird) launcher that could knock blocks off a shelf.  The blocks were pretty heavy so it wasn't easy.  

M: I just put the head on this pan and then pull it back.  

M: Then it flies through the air and knocks the blocks over.
Next up with the "Tape Scape"  This is really the focal point of the children's museum.  It is sort of a bounce house/jungle gym thing made totally out of packing tape.  It is very strong.  My brother was crawling around in it. The kids really enjoyed it and it was definitely a new experience.  We took about LOTS photos of this with our combined cameras and phones.  With all those photos, most still don't show faces, because the kids were busy moving. 

Sliding down to the lower level. 
M: Uncle Bret came in too. 

M:  Isn't A super cute!
They all got along. 

M:  It was pretty fun to slide down.
M: Whee!!!
Next we got to check out a science area where a local science teacher was teaching us about magnets.  I was thinking that Grandma Judy would love volunteering at a place like this.

M: The paperclip stood right up on the string because that pink thing I am holding has a magnet in it. 
M: Watching all the gears move is relaxing. 
Next it was time for the market/restaurant.

M: A, we need to get this pizza order ready.  T, you grab the box. 
T: I harvested some things from the garden and sold them to the market. 
They are so precious together!  
M:  I think A might have been a little be scared by our puppet show. 
T decided to go back and play on the "Tape Scape" and do a little gymnastics.  While she was playing there she found a girl who looked like her.  My dad has been telling us about his physical therapist and her daughter from China.  The girls are the same age and are both into princesses and fashion and being girly.  They just happened to be at the museum that day and the girls hit it off.  So sweet to see them together.
T: I love being upside down. 

T:  I saw a girl there who looked like me. She was born in China too.
T: We had fun playing together.  
We ended up staying there much longer than we anticipated.  What a fun morning.  After playing at the museum, we headed to Great Grandma B's house for lunch.  She had great food as always.  The cousins enjoyed playing together.

T: Every time we love to ride the chair. 
So sweet!
Cousin Love!
T: Oh no, Grandpa Daryl is going to get us!!!!!!!!
T: Hide me A!

After eating and playing we headed back to my parent's house.  T took a nap and Grandpa Daryl took M back to the children's museum to play and make some crafts.

Mom got up early to head to her mom's house.  My mom and her sisters provide rotating around the clock care for my Grandma F.  Very recently Grandma was moved to a nursing home in the area.

With mom on the way to her mom's house, my dad did a lot of the kid entertaining while Brandon and I packed and loaded.  Dad and the kids played "I spy" for over an hour.  Both kids had fun and I am pretty sure dad did too.  It was great to be able to get so much done while they were happily entertained.

The drive to Grandma F's was very foggy.  We also went a new way so that made things more interesting.  It ended up being a great way as there is such little traffic on Sunday mornings.

The kids did quite well at the farm.  We ate lunch there.  We got to see Uncle Eric which is always a pretty big deal for the kids.  Each kid sang some of the songs from their Christmas program to Great Grandma.  They did such a great job.

T: Great Grandma likes it when I sing. 
Four generations!!!
Our family with Great Grandma.
M and T: We love Uncle Eric!
After lunch we got in the van and headed home.  As I recall the journey was pretty uneventful.  I think we had to make lots of bathroom stops and we were running low on snacks, but other than that, we made it home safely.

We are very blessed to have so many special people to celebrate holidays with.  It was fun to look back on the photos and see all the happy memories from the weekend.  We have so much to be thankful for!