—Advent calendar treasure hunt: From the “biting off more than one can chew” department: I bought these cute unpainted wooden advent calendar xmas trees last year on clearance, figuring we’d paint them and I’d put little treats in them for the season. Well … the first part went beautifully, but the second got way out of hand. The boxes for each day were only like 1”x1”, so really nothing but an M&M would’ve fit, so I ended up putting in a clue as to where the treat was hidden. The kids liked the clue-hunt part so much that I somehow found myself making a 4-clue treasure hunt of it every single day. They loved it, it was fun, but … oh man, please tell me I didn’t sign myself up for this as a yearly thing? I’m out of ideas! LOL.
—The tree: We got the tree early this year (well, for us), following the Kiwanis to their new location the first weekend of December. Decorated it the same day, with both kids finally old enough to actually help, instead of the younger one just getting underfoot, heh. As always, it was one of my favorite parts of the season, and the fresh tree smell made it seem like Christmas.
—Lukas’s holiday potluck and musical at preschool: Just like for Thanksgiving, Lukas’s school held a potluck holiday lunch, but this one had a singing performance beforehand; Grandma & Grandpa were already here, so they came along to see it. Lukas’s class, the oldest, went last and made the most sense — he was hilarious and very proud of himself for singing all the words.
—Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Park: This year, the lights were much easier to see — they had a ticketing system, sort of like the FastPass, where you were given a window in which to show up, which minimized waiting. We went on December 26; Grandma & Grandpa got to see it for the first time, and the kids were thrilled all over again.
—1000 cookies: We baked a lot — and Annika is now a full partner in the kitchen, yay! — mostly cookies. The funniest thing was the cream cheese cut-outs; I quadrupled the recipe, thinking that’s what I had done last year, but no … it made so many cookies, we covered the bar top from end to end. Annika and I iced and decorated them, and everyone ate them for more than a week. Hilarious!
—Christmas Eve & Day: After a solid month of build-up, the kids were out of their minds for Christmas to actually be here. We watched Christmas shows, ate dinner early, put out cookies for Santa, and got the kids to bed. The next morning, niiiice and early, the kids got up and Santa had indeed been here! So! many! presents!!! They got to plunder their stockings and eat candy before breakfast, then open a couple of presents, then we had to get the turkey in the oven before getting back to the gifts. Lukas was particularly entertaining, freaking out over pretty much all of his gifts — so much fun! The cousins came over, and there were more presents! The kids got bikes! We had an awesome Christmas dinner! It was nuts, and so, so, so much fun.
— Grandma & Grandpa arrive (after a night in the Denver airport): G&G were supposed to get here on the 15th, but the weather had other ideas, and they ended up spending the night in the Denver airport and catching another flight to SJC the next day. It was pretty hard on them, especially since Grandpa had a cold, but they caught up on sleep that day and were more or less normal within a few days, getting woken up at the crack of dawn by the kids every day as usual …
—Lukas’s room is finally finished! Well, except for getting the doors painted. But he got his big boy bed and a nightstand at last, and with Daddy’s careful painting and the gorgeous moldings, it’s now the nicest room in the whole house.
—The new bikes from Santa: Annika got a bigger bike, since she’s so much taller now than when she got her old one, and Lukas got one with training wheels. We took the first nice post-xmas day and went to the school blacktop. Annika got the hang of hers right away; Lukas entertained himself by stomping on the brakes ever two or three revolutions of the pedals, to the point where R. and I were so exasperated we let him ditch it and ride his scooter instead. Oh well — he’ll change his mind soon enough.
—Holiday Bowling: R. was home for those two weeks, so we were able to go bowling mid afternoon one day while Grandma & Grandpa, both kind of under the weather, took much-needed naps. I wore my new bowling shoes (xmas present!), and the kids managed to not fall apart, so — good times!
—Build-a-Bear: Annika got a gift card for Build-a-Bear for her birthday, so we took Grandma and Lukas and went to put it to use. She immediately selected a sparkly white reindeer named Glisten, while Lukas dithered forever trying to pick something; he ended up not with a bear or animal, but with two blue light sabers ("light savers are the best savers”) meant for the Star-Wars-branded bears to hold — and they actually did light up! The funny thing was that, although they have not seen any of the movies (on grounds of they both say it’s waaaaay too scary), Lukas — making his saber selection — discarded Kylo Ren’s fancy red one for a simple blue one, because “Onwy de bad guys have wed wight savers. De good guys have bwue ones.”
—Family party at the Thomases’: We were invited to a holiday party at the twins’ house (Anna & Ella), where the kids acted like maniacs and we enjoyed some tasty beverages and food and got to know the parents better.
—Annika’s Brownie tea party: The troop had a little tea party for its last meeting of 2015, and invited the moms. It was so sweet how hard they all worked to set it up and act as waitresses — I could get used to that!
—Billy Beez: Lukas was invited to a party at Billy Beez — a kids’ play space in the mall — which was just nuts (a giant indoor playground with slides, bouncy areas, all kinds of pretend-play toys, etc.), and while we were there, Annika and her friend Sydney went to Raina’s, where they decorated a gingerbread house and played ninjas and whatnot (the three of them are a tight little group these days).
—“Mommy this is SEWIOUS: Santa has two magic eyes that can see whether you're asweep!” (Lukas, both hands on my face, reporting with great urgency)
—“handkerchip” (Lukas’s interpretation of what Grandpa uses instead of Kleenex)