Saturday, December 21, 2013

simply having a wonderful Christmas time.

I'm not going to lie, December flew like a flash. Time often goes by fast, but because of December's happenings, both Christmas related and non, I have no idea where it went. But I have pictures to prove that it not only happened, but we Christmased our little hearts out along the way.

First, I'm obsessed with Quinn. And I'm obsessed with this 50 cent sweater. They made the perfect combination as we welcomed the happiest time of the year.

We had all sorts of non-Christmas shenanigans going on. We had serious troubles recovering from our trip to Oregon. The kids kept sleeping in until 10, and couldn't go to be before 1 am. We were a wreck for like a week and a half. Daddy had to go out of town, and we weren't very good at saying goodbye. Bubble baths are the best. Digger shirts are the coolest thing ever. Q wears sunglasses errrry day, and has never met a powered donut she didn't like. And the whole crew saw Frozen (today!) and lasted the whole time. We are big Elsa fans around here.

Carly finished up her gymnastics class. Our community ed program has 6 week classes that give kids the opportunity to dip their toes in different activities. I like it, because you don't have to put down a bunch of money for something your kid might not like. Gymnastics, however, was a hit. She really loved going. She, however, inherited her father's gracefulness, and was therefore the most adorably uncoordinated kid out there. But she was all smiles and she sure tried her best, so we couldn't be prouder.

Winter arrived full-throttle. I think we've already had more snow than we did the entire winter the year the babies were born. The first decent snow fall I bundled the kids up and we went out for a walk. It was surprisingly successful. 

We went out again when daddy was home after a bigger fall. Chris pulled them around on a sled (what I like to call "midwest sledding" since hills are hard to come by) and Carly made several excellent snow angels. The babies though, they were not feeling it. A kid can only take so many face fulls of snow before they are done. We came in and Carly said, "Now I'm not playing outside again until spring." Good luck with that, sis.

Carly and I had a date to the Nutcracker. My dad took me at Christmas time when I was a girl, and its a tradition I hope to continue with my girls. We went to a pretty local production, but Carly was just awestruck by them. It was even worth driving 20 mph in a blizzard. We also hosted our annual gingerbread party, of sorts. It was a smaller affair, and no actual houses were built, but it was nice to have friends over to celebrate the season.

Then there is Santa. 
Oh, my goodness, Santa.
Carly and I have had so many extensive conversations about Santa, I want to rip my hair out. I just want to tell her "He's a nice guy who brings you presents, so stop worrying about it and just go with it!" But no, we are already getting questions about how he gets into our house, how he gets presents for everyone, how he knows whether you are good or bad, why are there pretend Santas (she didn't believe the one she met was legit for one second), and on and on. Her little brain is thinking hard about this, and I was worried she was going to figure it out way too young. I'm not a huge Santa person, but I want my children to believe in a little bit of Christmas magic. Well, she wrote a letter to Santa and put it in a local Santa mailbox. And wouldn't you know it, she got a letter back. It was a cute letter, that detailed what she wanted, reminded her to be good, and asked her to leave cookies since Santa gets hungry on his long journey. She was totally shocked. I think we've got her believing.

John and Quinn: not feeling the magic.

But my very favorite part about this Christmas is the fact that we are spending it in our own home. We have had years of wonderful Christmases with our families, but this year we felt a strong desire to be home for Christmas, and I am loving it. 

Staying home meant we decided to get our real first tree. Chris went out of town the first week of December, so while he was gone we got out the little fake tree and decorated it just for fun. But when he got home, we headed to a local Christmas tree farm to pick our beauty. It was bitter cold that day, so we ended up picking a pre-cut one. It was pretty obvious this was our first go-around, because Chris and I tied the tree to our roof through the car doors, and then realized we'd have to get into the car by climbing through the windows. It was pretty classy. But we got her home and set her up. I love her. I love walking by and having that real tree scent hit me. It is the best.

It has been a whirlwind 21 days. I look forward to peace and family time as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Chris is now taking a break from school, presents are wrapped, the children are nestled snug in their beds, and a whole lot of ice is headed for the Mitten. 

But we've got no place to go, so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

sand on my soul.

For Thanksgiving this year, my aunt and uncle hosted a reunion for my mom's side of the family. It happened to be in my most favorite place in the world, the Oregon Coast, and despite the craziness involved in getting us there, the chance at a beach vacation and the opportunity to see family I haven't seen in far too many years made it an opportunity we could not pass up.

Not going to lie, the traveling was horrible. We flew out of O'Hare and the night before our flight drove to Chicago. It was a 4 hour drive that took 6 hours thanks to children, traffic, and snow. More traffic the next morning meant it would take a miracle to make our flight. Luckily, we had strategically placed miraculously kind people that helped us get through O'Hare in record time. But then . . . our nonstop flight to Portland landed in Denver to refuel, meaning our 4 hour flight took nearly 7. The trip home was another beast: 2 hours to the airport, 4.5 hour flight where the twins were terrors, 1 hour to get to our car and get out of Chicago, 4 hour drive home. It was a long day, but the sand in our boots upon our arrival back to our home made it all worth it.

We had a truly wonderful 4 days at the beach. The babies met the Pacific. Our nature girl Quinn was a fan. John seemed more fond of trucks in the sand. They both called the ocean "bubbles". Carly loved being at the beach too, though the big house full of fun people was just as exciting for her. Oregon showed off for us, and we ended up with two 60 degree days, which was heavenly. We spent our days running from waves, walking down the shore, digging in the sand, catching up with family, and eating. A lot. Every night we had "adult story time", where we shared stories from our lives or that we enjoy, giving us a chance to get to know each other better. And on the final night my uncle made a family trivia version of Jeopardy. We got to play with cousin Shay, who Carly has always known as "baby Shay", but who is a big girl these days. We got to get to know uncle Brady's lovely lady, Sierra. And Carly got plenty of playing time (and in-house movie theater time) with my 10-year-old cousin, Novalie, who she just thinks is the bee's knees.

Thanksgiving was a great feast. We had around 40 family members there, and my aunt ran a beautiful show. We had our big dinner in a little building that could hold us all, and after filling our stomachs, we walked down the beach back to the big house. We stopped for a picture of all of us. My mom's parents have quite the posterity, and nearly all of us were there that day, wearing our matching t-shirts. I have so many wonderful memories of these people from my childhood. I love my grandparent's house, with their cherry trees and giant lawn and beautiful garden. But we grew up, and many of these cousins, aunts, and uncles I haven't seen in 10 or 15 years. It was nice to be together again, and get to know the people they have become. Thanksgiving evening we took Carly, Shay, and Novalie to see Frozen in matching t-shirts. How good is that movie? A pleasant end to a pleasant day.

Black Friday was spent far away from long lines and busy stores. Instead, we headed to my favorite beach. We vacationed at Cape Kiwanda when I was a child, and took Carly back a few years ago, so it was fun to go back with the duo. We checked out the tide pools and ran down the giant sand hill. I think Black Fridays should always be spent just like that. 

The best part of our trip was of course the people we shared it with. It is hard being a country away from these people, but it is a blessing that we can come together and it is like we were never apart. Quinn became quite the little Mimi fan, and my mom got her fair share of work-outs hauling her all over the place. We also got to meet John and Quinn's west coast counterparts. My aunt announced she was expecting twins when I was just into my second pregnancy. I remember being overjoyed for her, but also thinking I was happy it was her and not me. And just over two years later there we were, with our two sets of twins. Such a blessing to finally have the opportunity to get them together.

We are abundantly blessed with the good people in our lives. We are so grateful to my aunt and uncle for making the whole week possible. What a blessing to be brought together with the people I am most thankful for as we offered our thanksgiving.

And the Pacific. The Pacific is good for the soul. There really is no place like the Oregon Coast for me. We got home and I unpacked our suitcase to find a bunch of sand at the bottom. I shook it out and thought of the saying "You can shake the sand from your shoes, but not from the soul."

Amen to that.