Sunday, April 21, 2013

That's a Wrap!

2012 came to a welcome end.  After a year of much upheaval, change, and adjustment, we were very much looking forward to closing the books on the year and starting fresh with little excitement on the horizon in 2013.  

Unfortunately, we didn't get our act together in time to arrange a New Years Party. Scott and I just didn't have our hearts in it, but the boys remembered our "New York New Years" of the past and wanted to celebrate.  While I was at work, Scott rallied them to make decorations and dug up some fun new years traditions, like eating 12 grapes to kick off the New Year.  We embraced the west coast time difference and had our celebration when the real ball dropped at 9PM.

In the end, closing out the year with just our little family, was very fitting. In a year of change, we clung together and learned to find more joy and wackiness, right under our own roof.  We survived it together... and I think have come out stronger on the other side.  

Christmas 2012 - Part 2

We spent Christmas up in Seattle, touring the Botanical Garden Lights and dinner at Pogacha with the Jacobsen Clan, Christmas Eve Elves Party with my family (including rousing games with prizes(!) after the little kids went to bed, late night assembly on December 24th.

Papa set up the old train track to keep the boys occupied during the days - we pretty much didn't see them for except when they needed to surface for food.

Elves party music and dancing...

Important notes and goodies for Santa, tracking progress on NORAD, and lots of wiggles waiting for the big day.

Santa brought Josh a Fire Station (doll house) with police and fire figures, including their canine sidekicks.
 Though Josh was just as thrilled with accessory cars and pretty much anything else wrapped under the tree.
 Santa loaded Owen up with some much requested Lego Star Wars items, and Nana and Uncle Todd added additional accessories.  If 2011 was "a very piratey Christmas," 2012 could easily be labeled the Christmas "sponsored by Lego Star Wars."

Actually, I'm thrilled with how much these Lego Star Wars books have gotten Owen reading.  He wants to learn the names of all the figures and realized that he could sound them out himself, without waiting on an adult to become available.  Ah, the world of reading! 

Then, it was off to the Maxwells and a full, full house of good food and good company.  Josh was happy to offer a helping hand to anyone that seemed a little slow in opening the presents.We all were delighted with baby second-cousin Delilah, who has to be the most mellow baby we have ever encountered.  The boys thought she was a hoot.  We all got some good contact time with Kate, while she was pondering the next steps in her life journey (January brought her some clarity and a move to Anchorage, where she seems to be thriving).

 And, of course, no Christmas would be complete without some quality cousin time. This year, Calla and Josh seemed to really become buddies and only required intermittent refereeing.  It was a delight watch them grab hands and head downstairs to play magnetic darts.  The kids did not let grandma forget the gingerbread houses, and Ryan snagged a video of all three kids working side by side, chatting, passing candy, etc.  It's a small thing to us, but HUGE for Calla - as she does not yet readily talk with her friends at school or at other activities.  We're not sure why she is better able to use her voice around Owen and Josh, especially since they only see each other a couple times/year, but it brings us all great joy to know that O & J are so much a part of her circle of comfort.  More cousin time, please!

Christmas 2012 - Part 1

We used our advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. It's fun for the kids to know that there's going to be an activity or special bible reading each day, but I will admit that this year, the calendar was filled with a lot more "to do" items than in the past.  I think next year, the boys will be old enough to tackle something like The Advent Event or another daily activity based in scripture, but this year we stuck to six readings of the Christmas Story sprinkled between our holiday activities.

We did find a new place to hang our calendar of decorated pockets, so the kids could check it each morning.

Our calendar included things like:
Open Christmas PJs,
Shop for holiday presents,
School Holiday Night - this was predictably a riot, as we arrived 30 minutes early for the 10 minute show. The kids sang their "peace songs," which my boys continue to sing 4 months later. It took another 10 minutes to get the kids positioned on stage (one in a teachers lap, one facing backwards, a couple more sitting down, etc), and then all the parents pull out the phones to record video.  Of course, one little boy decided that his dress shirt was just too much and spent the whole third song diligently unbuttoning each button, so he could sing the last song half naked.  I was laughing so hard I was crying.  Gotta give him credit - our school teaches independence and he was demonstrating his new "buttoning" skill.  I also give huge credit to his mother, who kept the camera filming through the whole thing.  I'm sure that video will make numerous appearances over the next 30+ years!

Sing Christmas songs, 
Visit Santa,
Elf Yourself (that the boys got to do with Grandma while Scott and I were at his new work holiday party up at Timberline Lodge - swanky!),
Decorate the Christmas Tree,
Shop for a Family in Need - this was a first for us and great fun to shop for teens in foster care,
Wrap Presents, 

Make presents for teachers - homemade vanilla was a hit with both the kids and the teachers. I expect this one will be a keeper for as many years as we can get mileage out of it!

Make Christmas Cookies - Scott and the boys knocked that one out one weekend day.

and, of course... "Family Christmas Morning."  As we travel for Christmas, we have tried to reserve the Saturday before the holiday to celebrate a full "Christmas morning" with the boys at home.  We make a big breakfast and open presents in our PJs.  Santa still waits to deliver while we're in Seattle, but it's fun to enjoy a morning of our own.

This year, Josh was THRILLED with the present opening.  Age 3 must be when it really clicks.  I remember Owen doing a lot of jumping up and down at that age, too.  Josh savored and celebrated each gift - he was just as excited about other people opening gifts as his own. Pure delight!

December 2012 - Oh Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree decorating felt so  much more "traditional" this year, as the boys are both old enough to really enjoy the process of sorting through the ornaments and finding favorites.  In fact, we had one Sunday morning where it got awfully quiet from upstairs. Scott and I were content with coffee and newspaper until the silence pulled us from our seats (someday, silence will be reason for calm, right??).  We warily opened the door to the playroom, expecting chaos or perhaps a newly "decorated" wall, only to find that the boys were carefully unpacking all the Christmas decorations.  Such glee!  It's a great way to welcome the holiday season!

Decorating with hot chocolate and Christmas music.
 Josh's turn to add the finishing touch.

The best family photo we are able to get these days.  One five year old intent to be a ham and one three year old that only knows the "Chandler Bing" smile.

 Pretty cute when they want to be...

Though most of our Christmas tree interactions looked like this. Nothing says the holidays like wrestling with your brother!