Friday, December 25, 2015


Good morning Christmas. Even with all of the anticipation and expectations you somehow always manage to deliver. There is something to be said for consistency. 

We woke up earlier than normal. In fact we could have watched the sun come up. The girls were first to make it downstairs. Charlotte was kind enough to finish off the crumbs that Santa left behind. (Luckily he drank all of his milk so she didn't have to worry about that)

Aside from cookie crumbs Mr. and Mrs. Claus also left behind some pretty cool stuff including mermaid blankets and a fully stocked gum ball machine. 

For the second year in a row we also opted for opening presents throughout the day rather than all at once. In between we played with new toys and gadgets, made breakfast, and napped. 

Oma helped celebrate, the girls watched TV in a box, and Charlotte performed on her new ukulele as is also tradition. Building memories. That's what we do best. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

The cookies are baked and the (almond) milk is poured.
We've opened our new Christmas pajamas and read "The night before Christmas".
Oma has the Santa Claus tracker at the ready and the girls are cuddled on the couch.

We're ready!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Visiting Santa Clause

We waited in line. Excitement peaked. We talked through the whole can see evidence below of how the preparation paid off...or didn't.

As the girls climbed down I looked back to see Charlotte start breaking into tears. When I asked what was wrong she said she hadn't gotten a chance to tell Santa what she wanted. 

For the few key moments that they sat on his lap she worked her very best to console her sister. Because Grace was upset Charlotte made sure to tell Santa what her little sister wanted. 

I suggested she quickly run back to tell Santa quickly what she was wishing for (the people behind accommodated). A quick whisper in his ear and the world was once again in balance.

Full disclosure, while I did have my camera, these photos were captured by the talented photographer there that day. If I can dig up her name I'll certainly post it here. 

Full disclosure #2 - Charlotte does not have make-up on. I have no idea why her lips are so red and cheeks blushed. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cookie Day!!

I've lost count now, but this must be close to 10 years of cookie baking tradition. And what a fun tradition it is.

Nicole and Paul fought traffic to make the drive out to your place for the day. Troy stopped at the library and picked up a stack of movies for the boys, and we made a last minute grocery store run to stock up on everything we need for the day.

Charlotte was excited for days, starting the countdown earlier in the week. It was torture asking her to wait. She was a great helper this year. Stirring, dipping, spreading, and the most important....testing.
She's an expert here.

Grace stayed close to me wanting to dump everything she could into the bowl...there's likely extra sugar in every batch. As it turns out, Grace is also an expert at tasting.

I had the chance to catch up with a dear friend which hadn't been done in far too long. Troy enjoyed relaxing on the couch. We talked our guests into staying for a casual dinner, enjoyed some cocktails and wonderful conversation.

Really great great that I forgot all about pulling the camera out with the exception of the one picture below.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tea Time

A rare day with just Charlotte and myself. And not just any ordinary day.

After breakfast at home, we dressed and headed to the train. We got a seat on the top per Charlotte's request and watched out the window as the city grew bigger the closer we came.

We spent roughly an hour and a half strolling around downtown. Charlotte insisted on bringing money and asked me to put two quarters of hers into my purse. As we walked past a homeless man she asked for her money, took one quarter and gave it to the man. He looked at me, smiled, and said thank you. "You're welcome. It was her money and her choice" I replied.
He then looked at Charlotte with a sincere look of appreciation and said thank you. We talked a little about it as we walked away. About how fortunate we are for what we have. How that man did not have a home, and the many ways that people need help. Really, what we talked about was kindness.

We walked a bit further hand in hand. She jumped up on the benches we passed, and stopped to look into windows. We wandered over to the Macy's windows and spent time looking at the holiday decorations.

Finally, we headed to the Art Institute where they put on a treasure hunt and tea party each year. Two families from our old school in the city met us there to make 4 girls 3 adults. The whole thing was a chaotic, but Charlotte had a fantastic time, and far too much sugar.

We headed home on the train. Tired and happy.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Milestone - Naughty Words

Not all milestones are good ones.

We were sitting down at the dinner table tonight. We were having edamame and I had placed a bowl on the table for the shells. Charlotte had been tossing hers into the bowl when one time her toss fell a bit short and landed just in front of the bowl.

"Ahh, damint" said the 4 year old sitting on her knees with a bow in her hair.

Troy and I exchanged glances assuming we had heard her wrong.

"What did you say?" we asked nonchalantly.

"Ummm...nothing" came the reply. And then we knew. We had indeed heard correctly.

Awesome. So among learning the state bird, the fact that the statue of liberty's crown is made of windows, and why she has 7 points on her crown, our daughter managed to lean some new vocabulary as well. I guess on the bright side at least she learned this one at school rather than at home....

We had a casual discussion about how some words are reserved for adults, and how they aren't nice words.

I'll give her credit for using it in context.
I'll give us credit for not busting out in laughter when it happened.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Beginning to Look Like Christmas

It's starting to look like Christmas in Iowa and Illinois. We have now helped decorate 3 Christmas trees and hung stockings at three different homes. We're on a roll.

We put Oma and Grandma's trees up while we were back in Iowa and we've just finished up putting the star on our tree. Our record player paves the way with Christmas carols both new and old. Each year we manage to add new special ornaments to our collection leaving more of the generic box set in the package. It's a collection both old and new and some of our favorites continue to be those brought home from school from the girls.

Charlotte is particularly enamored by the nativity set this year. She has added her own gifts to the collection including Christmas light bulbs, pine cones and batteries. More than once I've found baby Jesus missing.

Grace, on the other hand, continually swipes the toy stuffed puppy that barks "Jingle Bells" and walks around the house bringing holiday cheer wherever she goes.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....welcome to December!