Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Week 2014

Visiting Santa downtown at Neiman's has become such a fun tradition.
Poor Santa got an earful this year including, "the remote control car you gave me last year broke" and  "I made cookies for you, but they accidentally broke."  Palmer also asked for a nut cracker (the kind that chops nuts, not a soldier) and a "squirrel chopper".  After Palmer and Grace walked away from Santa, Palmer worried that he forgot to tell Santa what Grace wanted.  He was comforted by the idea of writing Santa a letter update.

Rick and I spent much of the December month trying to figure out what a squirrel chopper was.  We were told, "It chops squirrels." (Obviously.)

Baby Grace's first Christmas:
Palmer's school party and Grace, the party crasher:
Our holiday celebrations were spread out amidst our various families.  We spent a lot of time in Fort Worth over the last few weeks:
A quick run to a brewery with my siblings.   Yes, that's normal.
Grace and Elle, the sweet matching Christmas angels:
 And the angels' fearless sidekick...
Christmas Eve in Fort Worth:
 Game playing with Gram:
Christmas Eve church with Nana.  We let Palmer hold his own candle this year.  I was careful to keep a firm grip on his hand.  What I didn't do is keep an eye on the rest of Palmer's body.  Palmer was standing on the pew and fell off.  In the briskness of the fall, the candle luckily blew out.  Whew.  That coulda been exciting.
Setting cookies and milk out for Santa.  We also had hot chocolate floats with peppermint ice cream along with the traditional Texas tamales.  We are going to have to make the floats a new tradition.  Yummers.
Palmer was pretty set on trying to stay up to see Santa.  Sure enough, he was fast asleep in bed about 5 minutes after we put him down. 
Merry Christmas Eve.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Advent Sundays

This year, I picked up a tradition that my family did when I was a child.  On each Advent Sunday (the four Sundays before Christmas), we light the candles on the Advent wreath and every person in the family opens one present.
As a kid, you can understand why I loved this tradition.  A present! Advent Sundays were such magical days.  Since there were four other people in my family growing up, I picked one person each week to gift a present.

This was the first year I introduced the tradition to my own kids (and Rick).  As a parent, I appreciated the ritual on a whole new level.

1) I hate bombarding the kids with too many presents.  I think Christmas morning can be overwhelming and lose meaning when presents are thrown from all directions.  Spreading our family presents out over four weeks meant Palmer could slow down and appreciate each gift.

2) Our weekly celebration taught a lesson in giving.  Each week, I asked Palmer who was the one person in our family he wanted to pick to receive a present on Advent Sunday.  Palmer took his gifting responsibility seriously and picked out something special each time.
3) The whole purpose of the Advent season is anticipation.  By lighting the candles (one candle on the first Advent Sunday, two on the second, and so forth) there is a visual representation of how much longer to Christmas.  As a parent, that's helpful to physically show a three year old how many weeks until Christmas.
Thanks, Mom and Dad for the fun tradition.  I'm glad to continue it in my own family.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Castles And Cookies

After volunteering for years at the Tridelta Alumni Philanthropy event, Cookies and Castles, I finally got to take my children to the gingerbread-making wonderland.
The last few years, I have brought gingerbread kits home to create in our kitchen.

This year, I decided that Palmer (and Rick) would enjoy visiting the magical candy event and make our gingerbread house on site.
The guys had a theme: green for the boy side and red for the girl side.  Considering we aren't the most creative at this kind of thing, I think the theme and execution was brilliant.
Palmer loved Cookies and Castles and would now like to have his birthday party at "the candy place".  Luckily, there is a darling playground outside the event, so we might just be able to make that happen (sans candy, of course).

On another weekend, my siblings and I went to town on some cookie decorating.
The sweet Cordell family gifted us with the most amazing kit of cookie toppings and we were inspired to spend an afternoon making cookies.
Palmer in a rare pensive mood... (I couldn't believe the cookie decorating kept his attention for well over an hour.)
Or maybe it was the eating that kept him focused...
Thank goodness for Holly and Samantha.  They upped the game on creativity with the cookies.
Meanwhile, Luke was incredibly helpful with the cookies...
What a fun way to end a rough week.  My dear Grandmother died on Sunday.  After a long year of battling Alzheimer's, she had a mini-stroke and passed away.  Everyone in our large family had a chance to say good bye before she died.

Me with my Grandparents and Mom in 1981.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rudolph Is The Line Leader

"Mom, did you know Rudolph is the line leader of the reindeers?"  Palmer told me that one day on the way home from school.  To Palmer, there are very few honors as important as the line leader, so that is a pretty big deal.

We've had such a fun Christmas season so far.  I worked hard to try to not crowd the holidays with too many special events as to overwhelm the kids.  I think I've somewhat managed, yet our life is typically packed and we still have done quite a bit.

Palmer was so incredibly excited to decorate for Christmas this year.  He was at a deer lease with Rick the day after Thanksgiving.  Rick asked if Palmer wanted to stay out there one more night.  Palmer said, "No.  Mom needs my help decorating for Christmas!"
(Yes, I know there isn't a stocking for Grace.  It's currently being knitted.  Everyone just calm down.

My helper was very much appreciated.  Hmmm...I wonder why so many ornaments are congregated on the lowest branch:
Blogging for Dallas Moms Blog has continued perks, including an early sneak peak at the beloved and amazing train exhibit at Northpark.  I loved having the place virtually to ourselves (and our blogger free admission!)
Holiday drink dates at Starbucks (Grace was super pumped):
The downtown Dallas Children's Parade is a fun event, but typically requires a lot of effort to get a good spot on the street for the parade.  We were over the moon when the Gannons invited us to their room at the Adolphus Hotel to watch the parade from the window.
Sweet Olivia loves babies and is so cute with Grace.
 Our perch overlooked the grandstand where the TV cameras were set up and we couldn't have loved it more.  It was perfect for Grace to get to play and stretch out and we all enjoyed being cozy indoors with our holiday snacks.
 Gannons, you realize once you go Adolphus, you can't go back, right??!??
 Flannel twins:
 Story break during the parade.  We were so glad Evie joined us since the Burrus' had to last-minute cancel with a sick kid.  However, I was terrified to be tasked with keeping that white dress clean...
 Budding photojournalist:
Lastly, our niece Elle's birthday is on Christmas Eve.  She had a fun outdoor ice skating birthday party last weekend.  Palmer isn't old enough to skate on his own, but wants to learn because he has an interest in hockey.
 Merry Christmas season from our motley crew to yours...