Friday, December 31, 2021

a look back on 2021

I didn't write a post to wrap up 2020, but I'm bringing the tradition back for 2021. We celebrated several milestones including Colin's first birthday and Mae's first day of kindergarten! Here's a look back at some of our biggest moments from 2021.
Top Row (left to right): Mae's first time on a big sledding hill; a park picnic with cousins for Grandpa's birthday; our first post-vaccine visit from GranE and Batman; and our first time meeting our new niece Lillian

Middle Row: Colin's first trip to the beach during our vacation with GranE and Batman; Colin's baptism; Colin's first birthday and birthday party; and our trip to Lake George to visit Mop and Pop

Bottom Row: Mae's first day of kindergarten; seeing family at Keith and Liz's wedding over Labor Day weekend; making the best of our Halloween (and most of November) spent in quarantine; and a Christmas where we were able to spend time with both families!

We just finished up celebrating Christmas with Dan's side of the family! We had several days visiting with GranE, Batman, Tim, David, Colleen, and Bobby. The weather was dreary the whole time, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained with lots of fun indoor activities and brief trips to the nearby playgrounds every day.

We opened Christmas presents the evening of our arrival on the 27th. Somehow I didn't take any photos of Colin's giant pig stuffed animal, which was a huge hit with both kids. We all modeled our new robes. I especially love the frog print on Colin's little robe, and he looked like baby Yoda when he was all wrapped up in it.
The kids had to show off their new Batman sweatshirts, too!
Mae had fun playing her new Battleship game with Batman. (I'm not gonna say Batman LET her win, but close inspection of his board indicates Mae's sucess wasn't purely beginner's luck.)
We could have kept Colin entertained the whole week just using all the interactive Christmas decorations. He especially loved this toy where Santa ("guyguy") appears through a tiny door. He said "hi" every time it opened, "bye" every time it closed, and "uh oh" every time the lights turned off.
He also loved all the singing Hallmark snowmen and the train that goes around the base of the tree.
Colin helped GranE water some of the houseplants. He loved taking ice from the pitcher and putting it on the potting soil. I'll have to hire him as (second) assistant plant waterer back at home!
Colin cannot resist a good snuggle with GranE. On our last night, he had a really hard time going to bed and was screaming his head off. Just 20 minutes in GranE's arms and he was sound asleep!
Mae would not let me get a good photo of her with Colleen. I'm sharing this one, but my favorite might have been right after this when Mae buried her head onto Colleen's shoulder and you could barely tell where Colleen's hair ended and Mae's started.
We stopped by to visit Colleen and Bobby at their new apartment one evening. Of course the main attraction was the two cats. Colin was completely captivated and kept looking under the bed for more cats, even after the one that was under there bolted to another room. Mae was as patient and calm as is possible for her, and managed to coax them out from the bed with help from Bobby, a laser pointer, and a bunch of cat treats. She was so excited!
Batman's office is well-stocked with fun toys. Mae especially loves the Batman Little People set. This Christmas, he added Elvis, the Rolling Stones, and characters from The Office to his collection. I'm sure Batman had to rescue Dwight or Mick Jagger at some point.
On our last full day, Mae and Batman assembled this gingerbread house kit that Tim and David brought. I think it lasted about a half hour before Mae started nibbling candies from it.
We did a lot of driving, but it was a fun, relaxing visit! We had lots of quality time together playing toys, walking to the playground, and gathering for meals. Thanks for a fun visit and end to 2021!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

all she wants for christmas

Well, we spent almost the whole month of November sick and quaratined, but at least we were able to see both families over the holidays this year! We visited Grandma and Grandpa's house for a few days before Christmas. We didn't have a whole lot of time all together, but we made the most of it and even got a pretty good family photo.
Our visit to the symphony's Christmas show was extra special for 3 reasons: 1) We hadn't been in 2 years, since it was cancelled last year; 2) It was our first time bringing Mae and Oliver; and...
3) Mae lost her first tooth (lower left incisor) while eating a cookie during intermission!! Her adult teeth are already coming in. If all she wanted for Christmas was her two front teeth, then Santa sure delivered!
She loved everything about the show, but she seemed particularly amazed by the full-company singing and dancing numbers. She loved the big sparkly dresses and audibly "awwwed" when the dancers came out in their big "Holly Jolly Dollies" costumes. Viewing it through her eyes made it feel so extra special this year!

The next evening we went to the outdoor lights on the grounds of the art museum. Colin was enthralled with the sprawling light display set to music from the Nutcracker, since they had big light-up spheres ("Ball! Ball!"). The kids had fun with their Christmas light necklaces from Grandma and Grandpa (and they made Mae easy to keep an eye on in the dark.)
The next morning we went on a really cute Christmas train ride. We rode in little train cars which were towed around the back lot of a hardware store decorated with all sorts of Christmas scenes featuring animatronic reindeer, elves, etc. Colin LOVED the moving characters and did his wiggly Kermit-arms dance every time we passed a scene with music.
He did NOT love sitting on Santa's lap. After baby Mae (who loved Santa from the second she set eyes on him), I could not contain my amusement of having a baby with the classic "screaming bloody murder" reaction.
Santa was a good sport, and Colin gained enough courage to play trains with him. But I could tell he was keeping an eye on Santa for any sudden movements.
We fit in several fun activities, including a trip to the indoor pool, while we were visiting, but we also managing to save time for playing. All the kids helped Grandpa out with his big puzzle. It's so fun that Oliver, Archie, and Mae are all old enough to help with puzzle pieces now!
Colin is starting to understand playing with trains (instead of just being a baby-zilla and destroying the track), so he had fun with Grandma and Grandpa's Playmobil train. He also got his own Playmobil recycling truck and airplane from them, which he loved! Mae had lots of fun assembling her new Lego Dots pineapple pencil holder set. I am especially looking forward to decorating my bedroom with the new duvet and quilt I got for Christmas. Thanks for such a fun Christmas, family!
We left their house on the 22nd to get Mae home in time for her second COVID vaccine. She was scared but handled it well, and we had MOD pizza to celebrate being fully vaxxed! Congrats, Mae!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

merry and bright

Merry Christmas!
I can't get over how cute our Christmas card photo turned out this year. I had about 15 minutes to pick outfits, grab my camera, and snap a picture in the backyard since I was trying to get our cards ordered before a big sale ended. The weather/lighting cooperated, I managed to find a cute sweater for Colin in his stack of hand-me-downs, a coordinating shirt for Mae, AND get both kids smiling at the camera! A Christmas miracle, indeed. I also took a photo of the four of us. Thank goodness for camera timers.
We have established a pretty good set of traditions, considering this is only our 3rd year spending Christmas at home! Last night we went to Mass, picked up Chinese takeout (and McDonald's for the kiddos), watched "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," set out cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer, and read "'Twas The Night Before Christmas." Then Dan and I sipped one of the caffeine-free blends from my tea advent calendar while watching "White Christmas."
Colin woke around 7:15, but we had to wait another hour for Mae to get up so we could open presents! Colin especially loved ripping the wrapping paper, and both kids tore through their presents quickly. I spent the morning assembling Mae’s new Playmobil Crystal Palace. She was sooo excited since she’s been hoping for a castle for a long time! Colin spent the morning rolling around in shredded wrapping paper and getting dizzy on his sit 'n spin.
Mae was hoping for a white Christmas, but instead it was almost 70 degrees. In the afternoon, we went to the playground and played with our new Velcro catch toy.
We headed home when it started drizzling, warmed up in the shower, and then snuggled up under my new weighted blanket (which I am also currently under.) Colin didn’t want to come out! Between traveling, sniffling, and possibly teething, he just hasn't been his cheerful self lately. I hope he starts feeling better soon!
Lastly, just had to share these cute fingerprint creations Mae made using her new stamp pad and Ed Emberley drawing book. I remember making these same animals when I was little!
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2021

one more sleep til christmas

Going to see the Christmas lights at the zoo is our longest-running family tradition. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Dan and I getting engaged there! We decided to go on a drizzly, cloudy Wednesday this year and arrived early enough to see some animals before dark. The zoo was EMPTY. It was almost like a private tour. Dan and I liked the new light up jellyfish decorations. Mae liked the LED trees timed to music. Colin liked the train and the manatees. Colin did NOT like sitting on Santa's lap.
We've had one minor dusting of snow so far. After 15 minutes of bundling the kids, then unbundling Colin to mop up his face after he fell inside and split his lip, and then rebundling, we had about 15 minutes to play before taking Mae to school. There wasn't enough snow for sledding or snowmen, but they had fun running around anyways. Mae's favorite thing to do is eat snow.
Of course Colin had to mow the snow.
Our gingerbread house was much more successful than last year's (which collapsed within an hour of being decorated). I'm not sure if the failure was due to underbaked gingerbread or too-soft frosting. This year, I think I used the Sally's Baking Addiction gingerbread recipe, which was just barely enough for my gingerbread house cookie cutters. I baked them a couple extra minutes to make sure they wouldn't be too soft. I used an eggless royal icing recipe so that it would set strong but be safe to eat. I assembled it while Mae was at school, and afterwards we decorated with canned frosting, M&M's, candy canes, and spice drops. Mae could not resist a little taste.
Mae is all ready for Christmas tomorrow! She wrote a letter to Santa asking for a Playmobil Castle and surprises! I think the little pictures are a Santa hat and a reindeer pulling a sleigh.
She reluctantly wrote to Santa that Colin has been good also. She was understandably hesitant since Colin has entered full-on toddler mode (opinions with not enough words to express them, tantrums, and just generally pushing all of Mae's buttons - literally and figuratively). If he wasn't so darn cute, he might have to worry about getting coal.

Monday, December 20, 2021

thankful for chocolate covered pretzels

Guess I better share these Thanksgiving photos before Christmas arrives! After a quiet Thanksgiving at home last year, it was so nice to be back together with a big family group! We were together with my family (minus Christopher who was working) plus Aunt Ruthann, Uncle Tim, Matt, Jamie, Courtney, John and all the cousin kiddos. Most importantly, everyone stayed healthy! (I almost feel hesitant to call a gathering a success these days until a few weeks later when I know it wasn't an inadvertent superspreader event.) Mae did give us a bit of a scare when she spiked a fever as we were about to leave our house, so we got her a COVID test (negative), delayed travel by a day, and waited until she was feeling better. We drove Wednesday instead and still had time to fit in a bunch of fun activities at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Like... driving the riding mower. (I love how those headphones accentuate Colin's chubby cheeks.)
And driving this blue car around the house.
We handed down Colin's stripey onesie to Lillian so I was twinning with my little niece!
Mae had fun going through the costume closet and trying everything on. She loved being a tiger.
Mae and Uncle Kevin had fun playing Mousetrap.
Colin's favorite part was the chocolate-covered pretzels!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

little sockhead

I’m getting Colin ready for winter with this little knit set! I picked up the yarn at the Kentucky Wool Festival this year. It’s a self striping sock yarn called "Grinch Night" from Colorplay Fiber Studio.
The hat is the Sockhead Slouch Hat in child size. I used a provisional cast on, folded the ribbed edge in half, and joined it together on the first row of stockinette knitting. I love the extra warmth of the double-thick ribbing! I added a pompom on top. Colin loves the "ba!" on his "hat!"
The mittens are roughly based on the Pat-A-Cake mittens pattern. I sized them similar to Mae’s fiesta mittens. I doubt Colin will ever keep them on, but they sure look cute!
I was able to get a few pictures before he insisted on running down the driveway to play with his bubble mower ("buh-buh-moh").
Hat and mitten details on my Ravelry page.