Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

I spent a few hours at work Christmas Eve morning while Jake and the tot were at home playing getting ready to head to my parent's house for the weekend. Even though we made a pit stop to grab the Pie in the Face game (which they were sold out of) and some lunch, we arrived in time for the tot to take a quick nap before the candlelight service that evening. Taylor was so excited to see her cousins when we arrived at the church, but her enthusiasm quickly faded as the service began. She sat on my lap playing with Elsa and being a downright grump until it was time for the candlelit portion. At first she was mesmerized by the flames, but about halfway through "Oh Holy Night" she totally lost it and we ended up having to blow both of them out. I tend to burn myself at least once before the end of the song, so it was probably for the best.

After church, we headed back to my parent's house for our traditional chicken pot pie dinner and to let Taylor open a couple of presents before bedtime. Our tradition also includes taking family photos in front of the tree and, as you can tell by her facial expressions, Taylor was really enthusiastic about it. Her mood quickly changed when it was time to open presents, and it didn't take her long to uncover the new jammies and giant stuffed Snoopy housed in each box. Shortly after, we all headed to bed so we could be at my sister's house bright and early on Christmas morning.

By the time we arrived at my sister's the next morning, my nieces and nephew had just finished opening all of their presents from Santa and were bouncing off the walls with excitement, so we decided to let the kids open their gifts while the adults drank coffee. I don't know about you, but I don't function well until caffeine is running through my system.

The little girls received new princess dresses and immediately asked to put them on. They were absolutely adorable parading around in their poufy skirts, leaving a trail of glitter everywhere they went.

And just when we thought nothing could top another Elsa dress, my mom pulled out the tot's last present, a big girl bike complete with colorful tassels and a Minnie Mouse pouch to hold all of her goodies. Jake cringed at its girliness, but Tay thought it was the coolest thing ever and hopped on for a test ride, gown and all.

Once the gifts were opened and the discarded wrapping paper was collected, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading back to my parent's house. A quick change (and a few pics with Snoopy) later, and we were off to my grandma's for Christmas dinner. We spent the rest of the afternoon eating entirely too much food and catching up with aunts, uncles, and cousins we hadn't seen in far too long. By nightfall, my sister and her traveling circus family had arrived which meant it was time to take family photos (everyone's favorite!), open presents, and play some Christmas trivia (because what would the holidays be without a little competition?). The kids had the most fun of all, running all over the house, jumping on the beds, and performing Christmas carols in the middle of the living room. 

By the time we left, it was way past everyone's bedtime but our hearts (and bellies) were full. The day was busy and chaotic, but having little ones around makes this time of year so much more fun. Seeing the delight in their eyes as they inhale their third sugar cookie (because Christmas sugar doesn't count) and watching their excitement as they open each present makes all of the preparation completely worthwhile.

It was another great Christmas and another reminder of just how lucky we are to have each other. I am already looking forward to celebrating with two little ones next year!

2015 Eldredge Family Christmas

I wrote this post last week and then forgot to actually publish it, so I'm posting it now as-is. A follow up post on our Christmas day celebrations will hopefully come soon!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Yesterday was an exciting day at the Eldredge house as Santa came and delivered all of Taylor's presents while she was at daycare! Due to our travel schedule and other family gatherings, Santa had to visit our house a couple of days before Christmas, which was fine with the tot because she has been dying to open  presents all week! This year, Santa stuck to the "something you want, need, wear, and read" rule of thumb and was able to bring Taylor everything she asked for, including new boots, jammies, puzzles, books, candy, and a new baby doll.

The highlight of the evening was her new Elsa dress and matching Elsa doll. In case I haven't mentioned it a thousand times before, Taylor is obsessed with Frozen and especially with Elsa. She couldn't stop twirling in her dress, tugging on the cape, and snuggling both of her new dolls.

The tot was pleasantly surprised with all of her gifts and was even happy to help open a few small things that Santa left for her little brother.  After we cleaned up the abundance of wrapping paper that filled the living room, Jake and I took turns opening our stockings. Mine was filled with new maternity clothes while Jake's was stuffed with golf balls, socks & underwear, and lots of treats. Don't worry, the tot made sure to help him devour half of that bag of Lindt white truffles before bedtime.

Taylor has been such a good girl this year, so sweet and loving and just a delight to be around. She's constantly keeping us on our toes, running whenever she goes and talking nonstop the entire time. We've had our challenges (which is to be expected with any two year old), but overall she is simply amazing. We're looking forward to many more celebrations this week and experiencing the magic of Christmas through her point of view. Wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Update: Week 3

We made it through the third and final week of Advent! I know that really there should be four weeks since Christmas falls on a Friday this year, but with pregnancy fatigue and work being crazy busy we're all lucky that we've made it this far. This really is the most wonderful time of the year and I'm so thankful to be able to provide fun opportunities for our girl, but some days we just aren't into it - and that's okay. Some nights we have a blast with our planned activity and other nights we eat hot dogs for dinner, skip bath time entirely, and the tot watches a Christmas movie on Netflix while I struggle to stay awake. There's a reason they call it the season of hustle and bustle!

So let's get to it. Last Sunday I was feeling energetic and the tot was in a glorious mood, so we busted out the Kitchen Aid and whipped up a batch of my favorite gingerbread cookies for Day 16. This recipe is super simple and kid friendly. Tay loved turning on and off the mixer (as you can tell by her facial expression below), eating the batter, and rolling the cookies into little balls. Her favorite part has been sampling the final product, which we have done every night after dinner!

Day 17's activity was one of my favorites - making Christmas shaped pizzas for dinner. I love activities like this because we are able to do a fun activity and cook dinner at the same time. I was lazy this year and opted for store bought crust rather than making homemade, mostly because I didn't want to spend the rest of the night on my hands and knees cleaning up flour like I did last year. No, thank you. Regardless of the dough, Taylor loved this activity. She's quick to help with any task that I'm doing but especially loves assisting in the kitchen, usually because it involves making a mess and eating.

Day 18 was also spent in the kitchen making chocolate covered pretzels, one of Taylor's all-time favorite treats! We were extra festive and used some red baking chocolate that was leftover from Valentine's Day and lots of green sprinkles. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to put the tot on sprinkle duty, but I turned around for two seconds and she had dumped an entire bottle all over the floor. So much for avoiding a giant flour mess the night before! Tay obviously thought it was hilarious, because she couldn't stop laughing as she smeared her hands around in the chocolaty-sprinkle goo. Needless to say, we both headed straight to the tub after this activity!

By Day 19 I was spent, so we tossed our original plan out the window and practiced our Christmas carols in the bath tub instead (because everyone knows that bathrooms have the best acoustics). After coloring nearly every square inch of the tub and singing several renditions of "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" (hey, it's winter-related), I was able to drag the tot out of the tub. This chick loves to sing and be the center of attention, so this activity was right up her ally. Plus, bubbles.

Day 20's activity was to build snowmen out of play dough. Like most kids, Taylor loves play dough and, thanks to Frozen and Frosty, she also loves snowmen. After rolling the dough into balls and assembling their bodies, Tay requested hats for each ("Just like Frosty!") and "hands" which we made out of pretzels. Once they were created, she picked them up and carried them straight to her room, giving them hugs and smooches and feeding each of them with her baby bottle. The only downfall to play dough snowmen is that their heads/arms/accessories fall off every time you touch them which means that every few minutes we would have to stop playing and reassemble them. In true Taylor fashion, she lined everything up neatly on the kitchen table before she began rebuilding them. Her little tendencies are hilarious.

Day 21 was Friday which meant movie night! The plan was to watch the original Frosty the Snowman (instead of the newer version on Netflix that the tot insists on watching every single day) and snack on festive marshmallows. This night's activity was a huge hit, and Tay has asked to have more "mallows" every day since. By the way, don't you love how she accessorized her jammies with that pink bracelet? Movie night calls for the fanciest of fancy, you know.

Day 22's activity was one of my favorite holiday traditions, a family visit to the Magic Tree. Taylor anxiously awaited this activity all day, asking about it at breakfast, before nap time, and every 5 minutes during our weekly Target run. Jake was off around 6:00, and by the time we got there the place was packed! The tot immediately squirmed out of my arms, darted in and out of groups of people, and ran right up to the tree to stare at the many strands of colorful lights. Unfortunately, Tay hadn't been feeling well that day so not long after we arrived the tears began to flow. She didn't want to stay but she didn't want to leave, her nose was a runny mess, and to top it all off she was hungry and exhausted. We took a horrible family selfie then headed to three different restaurants before finding one that didn't have a 45 minute wait (guess that's what we get for trying to eat out the Saturday night before Christmas). Our girl was miserable throughout dinner and refused to eat a thing, so we wrapped up our food and hurried home to put her to bed. Thankfully, some Tylenol and a lot of rest left her feeling much better the next day.


So there you have it, another year of Advent in the books! We plan on spending the rest of the week indulging in some serious family time now that Jake is no longer working himself to the bone. This rush was hard on us all, with Jake exhausted from working 16 hour days, the tot acting out because she missed her daddy, and me trying to keep my sanity while balancing a hectic work load during the day and trying to survive toddler town each night. I'm so thankful for our jobs and the opportunities they provide us, but I'm desperately looking forward to some time off so that we can regroup as a family and spend some much-needed time together.

We're expecting a visit from Santa at our house tonight, and then we'll be spending the remainder of the week celebrating Christmas with my side of the family. I can't wait for good food, good company, and lots of love and laughter over the coming days.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent Update: Week 2

Is it just me or is anyone else blown away that Christmas is next week? Time needs to sloooow down. There is entirely too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all. Since this will be Taylor's last Christmas as an only child, I want to be sure and soak up every second of holiday goodness and make the most out of our holiday season.

With that said, we had a great second week of advent activities! Throughout this process, I've learned that two year old's don't care how well thought out or organized you are, they are going to do what they want to do - and you just have to roll with it. So while I had a fun list of completely different activities planned, most of what we actually did was thrown together last minute depending on the tot's mood. Keeping her content is much easier than forcing her to do something she could care less about. Besides, she's engaged in holiday crafts and other activities all day at daycare so I don't feel bad repeating the same activities if I know they'll be successful. As long as she's happy, I'm happy.

Day 6's activity was lunch with Daddy and a quick shopping trip to pick up a few last minute items and a new ornament for Taylor's tree. The tot grabbed the first ornament she saw, a stuffed Snoopy, and was completely uninterested in anything else. I've mentioned her Snoopy obsession before, so it was no surprise to find her sitting in front of her tree singing "Jingle Bells," petting his nose, and occasionally taking him off the tree for a hug and smooch. Snoopy seems to be quite fitting considering how puny her little Charlie Brown Christmas tree actually is, with its 4 measly ornaments and crooked topper, but she loves it regardless.

Day 7 was one of those days that just completely got away from me and before I knew it, it was 7:00 and we had yet to eat dinner or do much more than walk in the house and take our shoes off. So, leftovers it was followed by a little Santa beard action in the bathtub. She must have been channeling her inner Macaulay Culkin, because these faces are straight out of the after shave scene in "Home Alone." I could not get over her ridiculousness that night, girlfriend was hamming it up big time. Clearly, when Daddy's away the girls will play!

Day 8's activity included a festive brinner for the tot and I. We are huge fans of breakfast for dinner in our house (or any time of the day for that matter), and Taylor is game for anything as long as sausage is involved, so we whipped out the frying pan and got to work making Christmas tree pancakes and ornament shaped sausage patties. Tay has become quite the little helper in the kitchen, so I knew this would be an activity she would love. Plus, I was able to kill two birds with one stone, providing a quick and easy dinner and a fun advent activity in one fell swoop, and the tot got to eat whipped cream and syrup. Everybody wins!

Day 9's activity brought another new Christmas book, which she and Penny instantly curled up on the couch to read. Every night after bath time Taylor begs to watch TV, but we make sure there is a balance between screen time and reading. Besides, cozying up in her bed reading books is a great way for us to spend quality time together and unwind after a long day. Plus, snuggles.

Day 10's activity was to surprise Daddy at work with dinner, and by dinner I mean a quick trip through a drive through so that Jake could get back to work and we could get home in time to get the bath time routine done before bedtime. Apparently, french fries and chocolate milk combined with lots of Daddy hugs were just the ticket because the tot ran around the conference room like a chicken with her head cut off. After we ate, we did a little socializing and stopped for a quick view of the craziness going on in the lab below before heading home. We were sad to say goodbye and send Daddy back to work, but this is our life come December and we're all doing our best to embrace it.

Day 14 fell on a Friday which called for snacks and our weekly Christmas flick. After last year's success watching Elf, I couldn't wait to see the tot's reaction this year. Unfortunately, she was less than impressed, asking "What this?" every five seconds and making it clear that she would much rather watch Frosty the Snowman. About 20 minutes in and an entire bag of fruit gummies later, she finally got her wish and I turned on Frosty for the 900th time. In all fairness, it is absolutely adorable to see her face light up every time he comes to life, so I can't be too disappointed. Girl just knows what she likes!

Day 15 brought a visit from Granny April, Aunt Amber, Natalie, and Granny Phyllis which could only mean one thing: Girl's Day! We spent the afternoon shopping and stuffing our bellies full of pasta in celebration of my mom and niece's birthdays. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken as we were too busy relishing in the fun to stop for a photo. But days like that are my favorite. No need to capture an image because the memory will forever be burned into my mind of time well spent with family, laughing and celebrating those we love the most.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for our third advent update next week!