Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ez's Christmas Tea and Nativity Play

Christmas is such a magical time of year filled with family and traditions I look forward to all year long. This year was extra special because we added a few new traditions that wound up being my most favorite of all. For the first time ever Ez participated in a Nativity play and his school held a Christmas tea on their last day before winter break. All month long Ez has been walking around singing the songs they were going to perform and it's put us all in the most festive mood. Once he got up on the stage in front of all us parents he froze, and he vetoed wearing the camel costume in the nativity play, but my heart pretty much burst with pride just seeing him up there. There were a few moments when he was just too overcome with the music to help himself and I did capture a some of the sweetest video of him dancing and singing. 

The grandparents were able to come along and watch him sing his Christmas songs and get a visit from Santa and then help decorate gingerbread houses. It was a high point of our year and I'm so happy we got to share the day with some of Ez's biggest fans. Holidays with school age kids are turning into the most magical ones yet.

If you need an extra dose of cuteness hit play:

And to wrap up the season, here's a little recap of the festivities we've been up to this month:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Year in Books

I was on a roll when I set a goal of 35 books for 2017 and naively thought I'd be able to keep up the momentum. Spoiler alert - I was wrong. At 27 books I came in short, but I still read nine more books than last year, so we'll just call it a win, because, life. Considering I read zero books in January and February (hello, moving stress) and only 2.5 books in the last two months of the year (which I'm not at all mad about, considering a lot of that time was spent on Disney vacations), it was an overall good reading year. 

I went outside my normal realm with quite a few magical books, and it was a refreshing change. I reread a book I loved the first time around (Eat, Pray, Love) only to find that while still enjoyable, it just didn't resonate as much for me this time around. I finally got around to reading several books that I'd already seen the movie version of, and while I still loved the movies, it gave a more well-rounded idea of plot and characters. Historical fiction will always hold a special place in my heart, and about a third of my books happily fell into that category. 

I had a great streak of luck at the beginning of the year and the first five books I read were all five star ratings (in my humble opinion), and overall I had ten five star books this year. Not bad, if you ask me. Fair warning though, I have a hard time leaving poor reviews. I feel like if someone went to the trouble of actually writing a whole book, start to finish, they've already accomplished more than me and deserve at least three stars worth of credit, hence my average rating of 4.2 stars. If you're looking for the latest and greatest new books, then you probably won't find that here, but if you, like me, have been living under a literary rock and are just now delving into old favorites, or classics that somehow slipped through your fingers during your required reading school days, you may find a few gems. 

If you scroll all the way down I share my ten five-star books, numbered in the order I read them, and based solely on how much I enjoyed reading them, how memorable they are, and how much they impacted me at the time I read them. I truly believe that a book can be fantastic and check all the boxes in terms of plot, style, and characters, but if the timing isn't right for you then it just falls flat. Maybe in different circumstances some of my four star books would've bumped up to five, or vice versa, but for now, as it stands, these are my top ten favorites.

  1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  2. The Things They Carried
  3. Some Luck
  4. The Story Sisters
  5. Early Warning
  6. The Handmaid's Tale
  7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
If you asked me to pick my number one top favorite book of the year, I'd have to say that's impossible. But I can give you my top three: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Things They Carried, and To Kill a Mockingbird. They're the one that swam through my mind the longest after I'd finished reading them, and I know that I can come back to those books time and time again and I'll still find them equally amazing and relevant, which is a rare thing to find in a book. 

How was your reading year? Did you step outside your normal comfort zone at all? Fill me in on your top three fave books of the year so I can add them to my list in 2018 (aka, next week - WHAT!!?) Happy reading, my friends.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! I hope you spent your day with loved ones, enjoyed wonderful surprises, got everything your heart desired, and, most of all, I hope you aren't suffering the preschool plague like we are. Sickness aside, it really was the most magical holiday yet. We had to rearrange schedules and drop a few traditions we normally cherish, but in the end we enjoyed our lowkey holiday to the max. Ez's jubilance and elation carried him through any lingering cold symptoms and lifted the rest of our spirits as well. And Decky? Well, he showed up for the party in between barfing, and that's really all you can ask. 😷

We spent our Christmas Eve at home with a quiet dinner and a last round of our favorite Disney Christmas movies. This was the first year in a long time that we didn't go to my aunt's house for Christmas Eve, and it was a lot quieter than we're used to, but a restful night was just what we needed. Once the kiddos went to sleep, I decided to stay up watching Elf and managed to catch Santa in the act. He was extremely generous this year. I guess between potty training and starting school for the first time, he though Ez deserved lots of goodies. 

After a less than restful night Joe woke everyone up at 7:30 (myself included). Ez groggily walked downstairs but perked up pretty fast when he saw a room full of presents. Decky had to be dragged begrudgingly to the living room and wasn't too pleased to find out we wanted him to work (aka, unwrap presents) before he'd had his morning waffles. We tore right into stockings and presents and we all found lovely surprises waiting for us. Ez's enthusiasm at each and every present ("LOOK! IT'S A BOX!!!") will forever live in my memory. Decky beelined for his brand new maracas and all of Ez's presents (naturally). 

After presents we had just enough time for a lazy breakfast and playing with toys before heading over to my parent's house for Christmas #2. When I say that a toy store awaited us when we walked into their living room, I am not exaggerating. These two boys are so very loved and they appreciated each and every gift they got (including the wrapping and boxes). Ez's head nearly exploded with excitement and he was jumping all over the place showing everyone his new gifts by placing them millimeters from our eyeballs. It was the most infections kind of excitement and I know this will go down in history as one of our favorite Christmases ever. Decky was a lot more into the bubble wrap and the tree ornaments than presents, but to each their own and he enjoyed Christmas in his own two year old way. 

As for Joe and I, even though colds threw a wrench in our plans, overall we were just happy to spend the day with our loved ones watching the magic unfold through Ez and Decky's eyes. To everyone who braved are germy little toddlers and spent the day with us: THANK YOU! You made Christmas all that much more magical, and we love you so much. To all those we missed this year, I hope you had the best day and we were sending you lots of love and festive thoughts from Sacramento. 

To combat those post-Christmas withdrawals that I know are right around the corner, I've made a little video so we can relive the day whenever we want:

Wishing you all the most relaxing week leading up to 2018!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas in Sacramento

Five days until Christmas. F I V E. 

Remember when you were a kid and five days felt like an eternity? What happened to those days?? And then after Christmas it's just one more more week until 2018. In case you couldn't tell, I've officially hit what the ef happened to 2017 mode. I'm currently somewhere between wanting to cram in all the Christmas traditions I can, and wanting to just chill and enjoy what's left of this year. Anyone else? ✋

One of the best things about holidays are those things we only do once a year that automatically tie all the past Christmases together and give you that cozy nostalgia feeling. But I'm also coming to the realization that it's worth letting some traditions go in the name of sanity. Confession: I haven't baked a single cookie this year, and I doubt I will. Thankfully my mom came through with several dozen of her cookies, which are no doubt a thousand times better than mine could ever be. I also haven't made a single hand or footprint craft to commemorate this Christmas. The boys seriously hate this tradition, and as much as I love comparing their handprints over the years, it's just not gonna happen. I haven't even watched Love Actually (not yet, anyway). 

And you know what? This Christmas season is the best one yet. 

Ez puts Buddy the Elf to shame when it come to festiveness, and the sight of a Christmas tree or Santa blows his mind every. single. time. Decky hasn't quite crossed over to our level of merriness just yet, but he will get down to some Christmas music and he loves a good Christmas tree (for dismantling purposes, of course). 

Holiday highlights include Ez shouting, "LOOK!! IT'S SANTA!!!" as a white-bearded man in an orange track suit rode by on a bicycle. Also, Ez being the awkward, totally not into it kid during his school's nativity play. Declan pilfering ornaments from the tree every time our back is turned. Both boys' complete and utter joy at an impromptu dance recital we happened to catch. Ez shouting "dare!" (there) every time we pass a house with Christmas decorations. And Decky recoiling in terror any time he comes within twenty feet of Santa. 

It's technically our first Sacramento Christmas as a family, but Joe and I did visit last December and we came across a bunch of stuff we knew the kids would love. Little did we know that we'd be moving here one short month later. So of course we had to stop by the Santa Run and cheer on all the Santas, even if it was windy as hell that day. We stopped by the light show in Old Town, which Ez LOVED and we're hoping to catch one more show before Christmas. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Sacramento goes ALL OUT when it comes to decorating. Like it basically turns into a huge block party/parade and wandering around to check out lights was probably one of my favorite memories of the year. 

Here's a little photo evidence of what we've been up to lately, and as I'm narrowing down my favorite pictures it's no wonder we haven't done any baking. Apparently we've been busier than I realized. Throw in preschool festivities (aka - assembling 60 very ramshackle gingerbread houses) and it's been a crazy month. The best most merriest kind of crazy though.

Wishing you all a restful few days leading up to the big day. Haha, no, but seriously. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trimming the Tree

Trimming the tree is hands down my favorite Christmas tradition. 
Festive PJs ✓
Christmas carols ✓ 
Keepsake ornaments ✓
Unruly child dismantling the tree as fast as we can trim it ✓

Clearly there's a lot to love 😉
In all seriousness though, the first Christmas that we have a gorgeously decorated tree with perfectly spaced ornaments, and breakable items on the bottom branches will be bittersweet because it will mean my babies aren't so little anymore. For now, I love our slightly ramshackle tree that gets disassembled and reassembled every day all month long. I love turning it on first thing in the morning and hearing Ez exclaim "lights!!" and seeing Declan's eyes light up as he realizes all over again that there's a tree sprouting toys right in our living room. It doesn't get much better than that. 

Everyday activities feel so much more festive against the backdrop of Christmas lights and pine scents. I love seeing favorite ornaments I haven't seen for a year that immediately bring back so many memories. But, most of all, I love all of us piled onto the couch underneath a fluffy blanket watching Mickey's Christmas movies with lights twinkling in the background. It really is the most magical time of the year. 

Ez has inherited my festive gene, and every magical Christmas moment is absorbed and magnified a million times through his eyes. He's at an age where Santa threats mean something and a Santa sighting is enough to nearly make his heart burst. I can say without a doubt that this is the best Christmas yet. 

Decky, on the other hand...well, he's a bit of a bah humbug. He spent most of our tree trimming on the other side of the room playing with Hissy the Cat (a stuffed animal). We managed to catch a few photos where it appears he's decorating with us, but in reality he's undecorating, like the little Grinch he is. He gets it from his Daddy. 

No worries though, Ez and I are festive enough for twenty Deckys. Sooner or later he'll cross over to our side 🎄

And, last, but not least, what happened to my babies??