Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear Santa

Did you know that when you drop a letter to Santa in the Macy's mailbox, they will make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation? I didn't know that until my cute friend blogged about it a few weeks ago. After I read her post, I knew we had to do that!

We made a whole day of it and brought the grandparents along for the ride.

Mama helped write. We told Santa how good Em has been this year.
Then she added her own personal flair. All over it.
So much fun to drop it in the mailbox like a big girl!
Outside Macy's, Opa helped her drop some change in the bucket. That's fun, too.
Oma and Emma loved the huge tree at the Domain!
Hopefully, by next year Em will understand the whole "Santa" thing a little better. I can't wait to see what she says in her letter when she comes up with the words on her own.

On a related note, I saw this blog post from the Huffington Post a couple weeks ago, Why The Whole Family Benefits When Kids Believe in Santa. Obviously, we've made the decision to do Santa, mostly from a sense of tradition. But I really appreciated the points this author made. Something to think about!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day

Christmas was magical this year.
Last year Punkito seemed too young to be very aware of the whole "Christmas thing." This year was entirely different. She was so interested in everything, full of smiles, and had a lot of fun. I've always loved Christmas, but Christmas as a parent is even better. I was so excited Christmas Eve it was almost hard for me to sleep!
Putting out cookies for Santa...
Couldn't resist a little bite!
Finally, Christmas morning!

As I mentioned a few posts back, Hans and I tried to stick to the "Four Presents" rule and we did pretty well (with the play kitchen being her big gift from Santa). Our beloved family members, on the other hand, did not hold back. Look what a spoiled child!
We are so grateful that our sweet girl has so many family members who love her so much. She's a lucky, lucky girl.

I think we have the only kid in America who doesn't just tear through her gifts. It was five hours (maybe six?) from when she opened her first gift to when she finally opened the last. She has to spend 15 minutes after opening playing with and examining her gift. Not that we're complaining! We love that about her. We just know that next year we should expect it to be an all day affair and plan accordingly :)
Not sure what I was laughing about, but I'm sure she did something funny
The trike was probably the big winner of the day. Point, Grandpa.
For all the spoiling, she is an incredibly grateful child. She loved every single gift and made sure to play with each one. Besides the trike, she is loving that magnadoodle, this Melissa and Doug latches board, these little Daniel Tiger figurines (Point, Oma!), the Little People Skyway set, her kitchen and all its accessories (shopping cart = Grandpa win! blender = Uncle win! Melissa and Doug food sets = Uncle, Aunt, Mimi win win win!), and, of course, all the wonderful new books for her collection.

Like I said. Spoiled.  What were the big winners in your house this year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Presence > Presents

December got a little crazy. We took several little weekend trips, had a lot of family visiting, attended several parties and holiday events around town and, of course, had the usual shopping, wrapping, baking to attend to.
I saw this all over the place in the past month and tried to make it my mantra. I needed to let go of the things that don't matter (i.e. having perfect bows on my presents) or are less important in favor of truly enjoying the season and spending quality, memorable time with my family.

Blogging was one of the first things to go. But now the holiday is over and the family is gone, so bear with me over the next few days as I play a little catch up.

I hope you all wonderful, merry holidays with your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Spiritual Thought: He is the Gift

For family home evening the other night, we watched this video recently put out by the Church. It's really well done, has beautiful music and a sweet, simple message. Em loved watching it and I'm sure we will watch it many more times this holiday season. I hope you take a moment to watch it if you haven't already. Enjoy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Trees and Santa Claus

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas over here!

We finally got around to getting our Christmas tree last week. We always do a live one and we just went to Home Depot this year. Probably should have gone to the Christmas tree farm again because Em had a blast just at Home Depot!
She wasn't sure about this big balloon.
She found this random stick on the ground and spent the next half hour pretending it was a walking stick. She kills me.
Every time she saw a little tree, she had to hug it!
Oops, dropped her stick down there!
We also went to Hallmark to pick out a keepsake ornament. It's a long-standing tradition. More on that later :)
And {surprise!} we went to the Woodlands last weekend. We totally weren't planning on going anywhere, but stuff happened. We have been scouring Craigslist for the past few weeks looking for Em's Christmas gift, and we finally found one last week. So we jumped in the car to go get it.

It ended up being a really great weekend. We spent time with my godparents et al. and as a bonus, we got some unexpected time with Hans' parents, brother, and niece. Mostly, it involved eating. Why is that all you do when you're with family? But we seriously had the best time.
He's all smiles here, but he wasn't all smiles for Santa
Once again, why does she do these silly things? She is so funny
Oh, just doin' a little shopping! She could barely carry the bag, but wouldn't let anyone take it from her.
She absolutely adores her cousin. Didn't want to leave her side for one second.
Oma and Opa with two out of three granddaughters = pure happy!
We also took Em to see Santa for the first time. I fully expected a meltdown (let's be real, Ryan was NOT a fan of Santa on his turn), but sweet girl did so well!
She seemed a little nervous, but she just kinda stared at him at first and then ended up smiling so great for her photo! I'm a proud mama. Though a little disappointed I don't get the bad Santa photo hahaha.

I love this holiday season!! Hope you all are having a wonderful time, too.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mama Monday: Santa, what?

Happy Monday, friends!

We had a crazy adventure this weekend and I'm a bit loopy with sleep deprivation. So I'll keep this short and sweet today.

Let's talk Santa. Last year Em was too little for us to even really think about Santa, but this year Hans and I have been discussing it with each other a lot. Is she too young to start the "Santa thing?" How do we introduce her to the idea? And how does Santa... work, exactly?

I've asked several mama friends what's their take on how to handle it. Here's what I've heard:

  • Santa's presents aren't wrapped. He brings them in his sack!
  • If you're going to wrap Santa presents, have a special "Santa Paper" that's different than what you use for your other gifts.
  • Santa brings just one gift, usually the "biggest" toy.
  • Santa brings lots of gifts, and mom and dad just give one or two

So basically... we've heard all ends of the spectrum. And so I'm putting it to you! How do you "do" Santa in your house?

I think our plan right now is to have Santa bring the big toy. We originally planned to do the special Santa wrap, but the gift is large size so we'll probably just stick a big bow on it.

As for the other gifts, we were given some advice we really like about sticking to a four-gift rule: something you want, something you need, something to wear (we might make this "play with"), something to read. I think this covers a good spectrum and will, hopefully, keep me from going overboard :)
Don't know if this is where I first heard the idea, but it's one that I pinned from Jones Designs

And that Elf on the Shelf guy? This mama nails how I feel about it.
Scary Mommy: Elf On the Shelf is Not Going to Happen

 Lazy mama, peace out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Love List: Christmas books!

1. The Night Before Christmas
The seems to be the favorite so far. We read it three times just today! It's the classic poem with great illustrations. Em especially likes the part in the middle where you first see Santa - it folds out to a four page spread. I think you can't go wrong with this one and it'll be enjoyed by kids of any age.

2. Santa's Favorite Story
This is a close second favorite! Figures she likes the big girl books best. I see ripped pages in our future. She just wants to flip through this all day. I think she really likes the illustrations in this one. I like that it has Santa, but it also really focuses on the Christ part of Christmas. Another recommendation for all ages.

3. Olivia Helps with Christmas
How can you go wrong with Olivia? This one sure had mommy and daddy laughing. It's a good perspective on Christmas from a little one's point of view. Another solid Olivia book.

4. Bear Stays Up For Christmas
This one's really cute! Very short and simple. There's not a whole lot to the story, mostly just cute woodland creatures getting ready for Christmas day. It's a quick, easy read and has a sweet message about being with those you love on Christmas.

5. What is Christmas?
Another very simple, Christ-centered book. I think this is perfect for Em right now because it tells the story of Christ's birth in the most basic terms. I do think that it has a shelf-life... it's good for the littlest of littles, but I don't see her reading this year after year like I do some of the others.

It's a solid start to our Christmas library. Please let me know what your favorite holiday books are!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Turkey coma, family visit, and other things

Welcome back to our regularly scheduled catch-up sesh. How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was both wonderful, though it had a few bumps.
We started our Thanksgiving with our new-ish tradition of running the Turkey Trot with a few thousand of our closest friends. 
I probably look more excited than I felt. But I was more excited than Hans - he came down with a bad stomach bug the night before, but insisted we run anyway.
Em was all bundled up and riding in style! At least it wasn't nearly as freezing as last year. 
Since we didn't want Hans to puke, we had to walk a lot more than we have in previous years. I rudely left them the last two miles so I could run and still finished in 1:04. Not as good as last year, but not bad for how much walking we did!
Hans' parents came from Panama and Em couldn't be happier.
Em had lots of time to read with her Oma.
Saturday we went to the Chuy's Children Giving to Children parade. We have never been before and it was so fun! We all had a great time.
It's Curious George, of course!
She really was having fun, I swear...
Hans' favorite float, for obvious reasons :)
Waving Hi to the firemen
Every year we do a live tree and we haven't quite gotten around to getting it yet, what with Hans still not feeling great. We will put that one in the dining room and gate that room off because I have a feeling our little monkey would tip it over. But it made me sad not to have a tree in the family room anymore, so I got a little fake on to put on a table (up high, away from tiny hands). We call this one "Emma's tree" and let her decorate it the other night. I can't believe how engaged she was in decorating it. Very serious business.
 And since Oma and Opa were there, we were able to sneak out for a little late night movie. Huuuun-ger Games! Loved it.