Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reuse, Create, Anticipate!... with a dash of Choo-Choo!

December is here again! Last year we bought a lot of decorations to fill our house... but this year, I tried to reuse what we already have or make our own.

Here is one I made... a chandelier wreath!


My friend Robyne and I window shopped at Pottery World to check out their Christmas displays. We left empty handed but with full hearts (crafters and decorators... you know the type of inspiration I'm talking about). The wheels in our creative brains were turning...

This chandelier was a product of that trip.

I just loooooved their hanging crystals and ornaments.
So what did I do? I dug into my jewelry making stuff and found these unused silver and crystal looking beads... threaded them through clear, elastic bands that I use for bracelets and tied them onto ornament hooks... hooked them right onto the chandelier.


The gold wreath was a hand-me-down decoration I've had for years... as is the bushy garland... and the magnolia garland was left over from last year's shopping spree.


The kissing ball... that's ours from when we were first married!
Ornaments are leftovers from the tree...




Our tree was our biggest purchase this year. We bought a fake tree from Costco... which Mark is very pleased with! We have this constant, playful argument about which is better... a fake tree or a real tree. 

I'm team authentic ;)

It's all rooted with what we grew up with. He grew up with a perfect, never dries out, easy to put up tree... while my family went out every year to cut down a real tree from a Christmas Tree farm.

I have memories of bundling up, hopping in our Suburban, and driving to a tree farm where my brother and I would run past rows and rows of trees... looking for the perfect tree... "It's too fat" "There's a huge hole in that one!" "This one is slanted... who would buy that one?" until finally my mom would ask... "Are you sure you like that one?" We would both agree... all 4 of us would agree... and Daddy would hand saw the sucker down. Of course with one of us shouting, "Timber!"

Seriously... there is no comparison... real is better. ;)

Mark and I both agree that once Ethan is old enough, we will go Christmas Tree hunting... we do live next to the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World" - Placerville... as it is called in the movie, "The Christmas Cottage" (Did you know that Thomas Kinkade grew up there? We are watching that movie right now as I type...)

Anyway, here is our all too perfect, unscented tree :)



Stockings are hung... 


One year ago...


Our little reindeer a year older!


Sweet kisses for Daddy


This little elf battles the temptation - everyday - to not touch the "orn-men"or ornaments.
We have lost 2 so far.... opah!


Some days are jammie days... just because life is a bit more snuggly that way :)


Yesterday, Mark and I took Ethan to ride a real train in Folsom. 
The Placerville and Sacramento Valley Rail Roads was offering rides to Santa's Grotto where families can enjoy cookies, hot cocoa, and a picture with Santa. All ticket proceeds go towards the effort to save the historic rails and keep the trains running.



The train had a conductor and engineer...


Everyone working the event was a volunteer...


The conductor said in order to leave we all had to shout "All Aboard!'
Once we got moving, he asked for our tickets to punch them.

Ethan got a special ticket...



Very Polar Express ;)



Once we got to Santa's Grotto, Ethan wanted to get back on the train... here he is heading back :)


This is Mark... redirecting...


Bye-bye train!



Ethan liked looking at the trains and sipping... more like chugging... his hot apple cider.


I love that E doesn't eat candy yet. 
As far as he was concerned, the candy cane made for a great "Sow" or sword... "Hah! Hah!" he would say, waving the cane in the air.

It's true that boys will turn anything into weapons...


Riding back on the train...


"Choo-choo!"


Every Sunday we light our advent wreath and celebrate the anticipation of Christ, His return, and His intermediate entrance into our own lives.

Here is a picture of the boys at last Sunday's lighting


Ethan is obsessed with blowing out candles...


Don't worry... I have new candles for next year... the leaning one keeps it interesting though, doncha think? :)

*****

It's almost mid-December and most of our presents are purchased, wrapped, and under the tree.
A few nights a week after Ethan goes down, Mark and I flip the fire switch, pop up some popcorn, and turn on a cheesy, Hallmark level Christmas movie... and we love it!

It feels so good to just be in the season and not feel like there are 101 things to do.
Just being present in the moment, in the waiting, in the anticipation...
in the advent season.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Very Disney Christmas Vacation


Something we've always wanted to do was visit Disneyland during the "Christmas Season". Quotations only because it's Advent Season. Christmas Season (contrary to popular belief) starts on Christmas Day, not the day after Thanksgiving. It's true!

Anyway! :) All the Christmas decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving and we wanted to see Disney in all it's magical holiday splendor! So... seeing that we bought season passes back in July, we thought we'd get our money's worth and check it out!


Flashin' the pass!
(Ethan is free until he's 3!!)

We drove down on Saturday (2 days after Turkey Day) and stayed until Tuesday... no crowds! 
The weather was perfect. Pretty warm actually... it peaked at 81 degrees one day! (wished I packed shorts for me and not just the boys!)

Here are pictures of Saturday night. We walked to the park, rode a few rides, and Ethan even stayed awake for the fireworks show that ended in a sprinkling of snow :)





 Here's a video of the snow... 

video


The Christmas Tree that puts all others to shame @ Disney's Grand Californian


Ethan and Daddy watching cartoons


Ethan didn't fall asleep until 10pm that night! Which means he didn't wake up until 9:30am...
First stop for the boys... Jamba in Downtown Disney.



Unfortunately they didn't have any blended coffees (which is what I was craving) nearby, so I decided to wait until we got into the California Park.
Big mistake.
They are renovating the park = less restaurants.
I am not exaggerating when I say it took me one hour to walk all over the park asking cart to cart, restaurant to restaurant where I could get a blended coffee. And once I got one (after waiting 30 min. for it to open), 2 groups of people asked me where I got it...

(Mark was with Ethan the whole time in the Red Woods Park)

I thought the coffee deserved it's own picture. And yes, I got the largest size they had!


Ethan and Daddy were having a blast once I caught up to them!



Visiting Downtown Disney's Super Toy Store.

Luckily when it came to lollipops, E thought it was great fun to rearrange them...





Trying on some ears


We went back to the hotel for nap time. 
After 30 minutes of trying to nap and 3 escapes out of the portacrib later... 
(yup, his timing was impeccable... he learned to climb out while on vacation)... 
we opted for a swim!


We brought our own breakfast and lunches (just in case E napped during lunch time... not a problem this time around!) So... that day we made PB&J and brought it to the pool!


This child is a CRAZY fishie!
I've said it once and I'll say it again... Ethan would die happy if he drowned. He is all smiles under water. 
We really have to watch him because there is no "healthy" fear of the water...

(Once Mark and I were in a pool, on the steps, talking... Ethan was on the top step next to me... and he jumped into the water to... nobody. Happily. We both looked at each other and laughed thinking, "Did that just happen?" And then rescued him of course!)

Pool time!


Just look at that smile!







Back to the park for some Autotopia.
We learned in July that Ethan was tall enough for the ride but never rode it!
I guess there are benefits for being a tall kid ;)


Daddy steered, Mommy put the petal to the metal, and Ethan cruised.



The Castle @ Night


Ethan did actually nap... at 5pm.
Here he is in his stretcher ;)


Dinner at the Rain Forrest Cafe!



Ethan loved all the animals but was a little more timid this time around.
I wish I had this on camera... but seconds later, this elephant turned straight at him.
His reaction?
Priceless.


This kid can eat! 
To each is their own: of all things we juggle with Ethan, eating is never really a problem.
He tries anything you put in front of him and would eat broccoli until he was sick.
Apparently spice doesn't get to him as the sausage in my Pasta Jumbalaya was eaten' up quickly.
(Check out the lady behind Ethan)


Tickle attack waiting for the monorail.




Small World at night.


Another carousel ride.
Each ride ended in tears... sad it was over.
We started to rethink strolling by this area...


Playing Peekaboo while waiting for the Fantasmic Show to start.




More fireworks.


Got your hat, Daddy!


Yup, Daddy still has teeth!
Or "teet"


Monday adventures... visiting Santa at the California Park












5" short for these rides



Bugs Life fun...




Back to Disneyland...
"Pirate! Pirate!"
Any boat or ship is suspect as far as Ethan is concerned...


Love this face!
"My parents are making me sit here and take a picture."


And this is apparently a poisonous plant...
have faith if your child puts a poinsettia in his mouth and rubs his eyes with it.
I am happy to report that we are all alive and not blind!





Toon Town!





Back to the hotel for some more pool time!








Ethan's first water slide!
Mark got cheers from spectating parents as he let Ethan slide down first and then slid down immediately after E hit the water to "save" him. 




Ethan on his own now...





Love these boys :)
And can I say... Ethan is SO tan!


Bath time with Daddy... we lured him away with more water and...


New bath toys!


View from the balcony


Dinner @ the Jazz Kitchen


Ice Cream for the big guy!



Ready for the World of Color show from the hotel balcony...





Picture by the tree before bedtime



We hit all the rides we wanted except for Small World... couldn't leave without seeing it!
We made our way back to Disneyland one last time on Tuesday before the road trip home.





Here we go!





Ethan made the list :)











We hit the road after we said good-bye to the snow capped castle, Walt and Mickie, and hit up Haagen Dazs and Wetzels Pretzels for some much needed caffeine and munchies... for 7 hours of sitting.

Ethan on the other hand went straight to sleep!
Mark says he has Angelina Jolie lips when he sleeps :)


I love vacationing with extended family... grandmas and grandpas, aunties, uncles, cousins, and friends...

but something about traveling with our family of 3 is uniquely heart warming.
A few memories that make me smile still:

*Watching Mark prop a chair against Ethan's room while he "naps" and sitting on it to make sure Ethan doesn't escape.
*Experiencing bubble snow on Main Street after the firework show.
*Watching Ethan slip and slide for the first time... and loving it!
*Hearing Ethan say "Pirate" in finally... the best context... Disneyland!
*Sleeping in everyday! Ethan didn't wake up until 9:30am every morning! Vacation indeed!

Another magical vacation... especially the sleeping in part ;)
Happy December all!