Christmas 2016

I know we’ve already said goodbye to 2016, but I can’t resist sharing a few (okay, a bunch) of photos from our Christmas festivities.

The season felt a little bit rushed this year because of the move. We pretty much had to leave all of our our decorating, seasonal outings and Santa prep activities until the week before the holiday. Nevertheless, the girls seemed to have a blast. In addition to it being Alice’s first Christmas, this was the first year that B really understood what was happening. She sung along to every Christmas song on the radio (her favorites were You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), couldn’t wait to bust out the decorations and bought into all of the Santa Claus lore. The latter is the most adorable to me, and I’m already dreading the day when she starts to question things.

So, without further adieu, here’s a glimpse into our holiday season!

While we were preparing for the move, we had a tiny tree up at our old house. But, B could not wait to put up the real thing. So, as soon as the boxes were sufficiently cleared from the living room, we got to work.

11

12

Showing off Elmo, one of “her” ornaments

17

Just up from a nap, in time to supervise the decorating process.

24
29

Finished! We have the tree on a timer, so that it turns on every day at 4 p.m. B thinks that “Santa Magic” is responsible.

The holiday season in Philly isn’t complete without a visit to Macy’s, to see the light show and visit the Dickens’ Village. Alice actually seemed to enjoy all the lights, and clapped along with the music.

img_4671

Chester and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll always have to be in the annual Santa photo. B actually waved to Santa when she walked into the room, so I had high expectations that things would go well. But, when it was time to pose for the picture, she wasn’t having it. Alice just seemed stunned, which fortunately, prevented her from having a meltdown. And yes, she isn’t wearing any socks in this photo. After the 100th time she pulled them off that day, I didn’t bother to put them back on.

img_4669

We broke in our kitchen with our first baking project: sugar cookies for Santa. B was in charge of rolling them into the red and green sugar, and she proclaimed each one of them “a Christmas miracle!” in between eating bites of dough. The real miracle, if you ask me, was having ample counter space for this project!

img_4684

On Christmas Eve, we headed to my mom’s for the afternoon. We ate way too much food, and B had a great time hanging out with her Uncle Mike.

34

41

44

54

And, then it was home to get ready for Santa. This year, in addition to the cookies and milk, we left an apple for the reindeer.

61

Everyone was up bright and early the next morning (wearing matching Nutcracker pajamas) to see what Santa left!

65


img_4766

B’s favorite gift was her Code-A-Pillar and Alice really is enjoying her Beatbelle

Our girls looked like Christmas princesses, for more food and presents on Christmas afternoon at Nee-Nee’s.

69

I loved this dress so much when B wore it. So glad that it fit Alice this year!

71

B was in no mood to pose for pictures. She requested ” a lot of Christmas M and Ms” in return for posing for this shot, but she really wasn’t feeling like her usual self that afternoon. By the end of the day, she was running a fever, which later gave way to a cold that made its way through our house over the next week. Fun times. But, holiday illnesses seem to be par for the course, where kids are concerned, so I suppose we should get used to that fact!

I’m already looking forward to next year, when we’ll be fully settled into our home and ready to make some new holiday traditions. I hope that your holidays were just as swell!

Save

Christmas 2015

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays this year has been complicated by pregnancy brain and the overwhelming feeling that there is a lot to do and so little time to do it all before Baby #2 arrives. So, while most of you have probably snapped back to reality, I’m going to stay in the land of twinkly lights, sweets and Santa Claus for just a little bit longer with this post. Plus, B was especially into all things Christmas this year, and the photos are too cute not to share!

Chester and I were lucky to both be off from work for two weeks, which gave us a little extra time to do some festive things with B in the week leading up to Christmas.

There were cookies to make—and sprinkles to eat.

IMG_1098

We took a trip to Macy’s to do all a few of the traditional Philly Christmas activities, including a visit with Santa, a walk through the Dicken’s Village and a viewing of the light show and holiday window displays.

B could not take her eyes off of Santa when she first walked into the room. But, she wasn’t inclined to sit on his lap when it was time for the photo. Hence, for the second year in a row, it was a family portrait. I really should have anticipated this and done a better job with my hair.

Macy Santa 1

It was so warm on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that we put the air conditioning on. It was bizarre, but at least that meant that B still got to wear the adorable outfits that I had chosen with colder weather in mind.

37

Trees were definitely her obsession this year. Ours was on a timer and we told her Santa came to light it up every night. When she would see the lights go on, she would say “Thank you, Santa!” It was adorable, obviously.

Santa stopped at Ni-Ni’s early, and B was excited to unwrap the gifts that he left there. As you can see, there was a musical theme going on.

50

42

49

This was the first year that she was really into tearing the paper off of things!

46

Kisses for Daddy!

After eating way too many cookies for dessert, it was time to head home and wait for Santa!

53

Getting Santa’s cookies ready before bed. 

IMG_1166

Yay! Santa came!

When B woke up on Christmas morning, she knew something was up. We waited at the top of the stairs while Chester got a few last minute things in order and she kept saying “What’s down there?!” Her enthusiasm was contagious–I can’t remember the last time I was so excited on Christmas morning! The look on her face when she saw all of the presents under the tree and the leftover cookie crumbs from Santa’s snack was priceless.

Christmas_Day-3

That guitar went everywhere with her for a couple of days.

Christmas_Day-4

Yes, we wore matching gingerbread pajamas.

Christmas_Day-2

Well, everyone but Tracy. They didn’t make them in her size.

B was very specific in her request for a blue Care Bear, so I as excited when I found the last one at Toys “R” Us. She looked at it for about two seconds before moving on.

Christmas_Day-6

In my typical fashion, I over thought all of the gifts we picked out for B (will she enjoy this? Is this right for her age? Are regular blocks better than magnetic blocks). Turns out that I needed have worried so much. Her favorite thing that she received on Christmas morning ended up being a dollar store flashlight that was in her stocking. Oh, toddlers.

IMG_1181

Then, it was back to Ni-Ni’s for more food, presents and family time.

Christmas_Day-10

There’s that guitar again.

After all of the festivity of those two days, we kept the rest of our holiday break pretty low key. We ventured out to the Please Touch Museum, Reading Terminal to see the holiday train display and a couple of after-Christmas sales to score some half-priced décor (which I enjoy even more than the half-priced candy after Halloween) But, other than that, we were mostly at home, playing with B’s new toys.

We rung in 2016 with take-out from DiBruno Brothers’ and a movie from On Demand, to ensure that we didn’t fall asleep before midnight. We are party animals, I know, but honestly, being at home is my favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve. Except, I would prefer real champagne to the disgusting sparkling grape drink that we had. Next year, for sure!

And that, friends, was how we spent our Christmas vacation.

Now, how long do you think I can go on eating cookies for breakfast and trying to figure out if it’s possible to fit the Mamaroo in the living room without dismantling the Christmas tree?

Christmas Magic

Christmas_2015_5_7-1

The cookies are baked, presents are ready to go under the tree and the stockings are hung. Sure, the 70+ degree temperatures have it feeling more like Easter, but nevertheless, two of my favorite days of the year are finally here!

I will admit that I couldn’t muster up my usual enthusiasm for all of the preparations leading up to the holiday this year. At seven months pregnant, I am exhausted, cranky and uncomfortable 98 percent of the time. But, B has been a reminder that all of that “stuff” doesn’t really matter, anyway. To her, every little thing about this season has been amazing—even getting dressed up to pose for a photo with a gift box that is completely empty, apart from two LED tap lights stuck to the bottom (which is the story behind our Christmas card photo, above. I’m also reminded how lucky I am that I married someone so creative).

So, in the end, I realized that it doesn’t really matter that the gifts look like they were wrapped by a T-rex or that we never got around to doing half of the activities that I put on the Advent calendar. All she cares about are the sparkly ribbons and pulling the numbers off the twine, anyway.

All that to say, everything can be magical. Even the little things.

I hope that you have the merriest Christmas ever, and that you get to spend this time eating way too many cookies with the people who matter most to you in the world.

Christmas_2015_Tracy-1

The true miracle of this holiday season was getting both of our kids to pose for photos.

Wonderful Christmastime

Christmas_2014-27

My little elf, on Christmas morning

It hasn’t even been a week, but it feels like Christmas was forever ago! We had two full days of celebrations with family, friends and delicious food. And, B looked even more adorable than usual. So, of course, I can’t resist sharing a few photos of the festivities.

We spent Christmas Eve at Big Bridget’s mom’s house. Chester and Bill did all of the hard work of cooking a humongous meal, while the rest of us sat around chatting, eating and drinking.

5

8

B was a lot more social and less overwhelmed by all of the people than she was at Christmas last year. But, she still wasn’t to thrilled about posing for photos!

When we got home later that night, I ruined a cake that I was trying to make for Christmas Day dessert, took one look at the instructions for the B’s play shopping cart, and upon seeing that it involved about 40 steps and a hammer, turned the heavy lifting back over to Santa (i.e.. Chester) and went to bed.

Christmas_2014-4

I brought B downstairs around seven the next morning and her eyes lit up when she saw the pile surrounding the tree. She wasn’t really into tearing the paper off the gifts, like I thought she would be. So, we opened a few things that morning and saved the rest for later (we actually just unwrapped the final box just last night). But, she did have a blast playing with some of her play kitchen, shopping cart and Big Hugs Elmo. She also kept running back and forth between her old toys and the new ones—I guess she didn’t want them to feel left out!

Christmas_2014-7

Christmas_2014-16Serious bed head

Christmas_2014-10

 

Christmas_2014-13

This Elmo is literally her size. She was dumbfounded.

Christmas_2014-17

Love at first sight

Christmas_2014-18We took B to Pet Smart and let her pick out a gift for Tracy. But, judging from the amount of time that poor Tracy has actually spent playing with that ball, it seems like we still have a way to go until B understands the concept of gift giving!

Christmas_2014-20

Yes, we had matching pajamas (even Chester).

After naps for everyone, it was off to my mom’s for more food (including lasagna, meatballs and sausage–no one makes them better than my mom!) and gifts. Spoiled doesn’t even begin to cover what everyone in the family was this year. The floor of my mom’s living room was barely visible amid all of the boxes and bags.

Christmas_2014-35This will forever be my favorite outfit that B has ever worn. She was our Christmas princess.

Christmas_2014-51

This was, by far, her favorite gift, although she kept throwing the poor doll onto the floor.

Christmas_2014-37

Photo books of B’s one year photo shoot for everyone!

Christmas_2014-40

Stealth photo of Uncle Mike. He’ll be thrilled to see this on here.

Christmas_2014-41

Chester’s parents, on their first Christmas as Philadelphia residents.

It is safe to say that this was one of my favorite Christmases ever. Even though B still didn’t totally “get” what all the fuss was about, she was so good and just…happy. Seeing her smile and hearing her laugh are the best gifts ever. All too soon, it was time to say “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” But, next Christmas is only 359 days away!

 

Christmas Light Tour

Big, sparkly Christmas light displays are my fave. Luckily, there are no shortage of them in and around the Philadelphia area. And, since taking in the lights is a pretty toddler friendly (and free!) activity, we’ve been doing a lot of it this season. Our first stop was the Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle, with our friends Richard and Louisa and their kids. Every 30 minutes, the park is illuminated by an elaborate light show, set to a soundtrack by the Philly POPS. There is plenty to do at the park keep everyone occupied, including a seasonal craft market, food/beverage tent and of course the carousel and mini golf, so I would definitely recommend adding this to your holiday to-do list (this year, it runs through New Year’s Eve). FS-24 FS-3

She was obsessed with the water in the fountain. She kept spinning in circles and saying “wa-wa”

FS-15

She started clapping as soon as the music started

Next, we headed to Peddler’s Village in Bucks County. You can get some of your shopping done while taking in more than one million lights that make up the outdoor display. PV-1

Killing time in the toy store, while we waited for the lights to come on.

PV-6 Our final stop was the Christmas Village in Love Park and new Dilworth Park outside of City Hall. CM-2 CM-6

B had fallen asleep in the car on the way there and was not too happy about being woken up from her nap, or about the crowds in the village

CM-7

We didn’t notice until going through the photos that these lights changed color

CM-11

She’s on the move, and she loved the big, open space…

CM-16

…and the steps. She would have gone up and down them all day. Not pictured: the meltdown that ensued when I picked her up to leave. That’s how I knew it was time to head home.

Where have you all been getting your Christmas light fix this year?

DIY Christmas Countdown Calendar

One of the first signs that the holiday season was upon us when I was growing up was the appearance of the Christmas countdown calendar in our kitchen. It was this one, from Avon. When I saw it hanging in B’s playroom at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving, it brought back memories of the yearly fight between my brother and me, in regards to who would get to move the mouse first.

This year, I decided to start the Christmas countdown tradition by making a calendar for B. It doesn’t look like the fancy ones that are currently cluttering my Pinterest feed, but it’s fun and whimsical and B’s eyes lit up when she saw it. I’m glad she’s still at an age where she is easy to impress.

calendar 5

I covered paper tags with card stock, wrote each activity on the back of them, cut the numbers out of glittery paper and displayed them on the chicken wire frame from her first birthday party. Since she is still a little too young for some of the traditional holiday festivities like baking cookies and ice skating, I purchased few little trinkets for her to unwrap (a hair bow and socks, books, jingle bells, to name a few) and alternated them with toddler-friendly activities, like watching Christmas movies and driving around to look at Christmas lights.

calendar 3

I think it should make for a fun December (which starts tomorrow! What?!)