Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Countdown to Christmas!

Well, I haven't posted in almost a month...again...because we've just been too darn busy.  Work, three kids, holiday fun...I can't keep up and I certainly can't get enough sleep to save my life, so the blog totally takes a back seat.  However, last night my saint of a mother kept Margot and Sylvia overnight, so I was able to wrap up all of my last minute to-do's AND go out to dinner with Sylvain and Albert AND watch a real, honest to goodness, start to finish MOVIE after Albert went to bed.  I know.  Miracles do happen. 

That means tonight is the calm before the storm!  The girls as so excited about Christmas.  Sylvia has asked me every night if Christmas is "the day after tomorrow," even though we have two advent calendars that clearly count down the days until Christmas.  Tonight I got to tell her...YES!  It IS the day after tomorrow and I don't know which one of us was more excited. 

Now, if I'm not careful, I could really overdo it on the holiday memory making.  It seems like every year there are more and more opportunities to go on outings and get good family photos.  When Sylvain and I look at the calendar each week, we make decisions based on two things: 1. How will the event impact our kids' sleep? and 2. Will we be sad we missed it a year from now?  We ended up with a few, very meaningful, fun and priceless events!  Here's our holiday countdown recap:

Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights

We will do this every year and we'll do it as early as humanly possible!  This year we went the day before Thanksgiving and it was a good plan.  I like taking the kids to see Santa early to get that job out of the way!  Then Santa has plenty of time to shop for the big ticket items, and the kids can't change their minds because...."Hey!  You've already seen Santa and you told him you wanted ____!"  It's a win-win.  

This year we waited in line for about 20 minutes.  The suspense and buildup were a little too much for Sylvia to take and she got loopy by the end.  All she did was giggle and stare once she got there, but she managed to eke out a viable request.  Margot, however, shocked me.  I was holding her hand right before we stepped onto Santa's platform.  I looked down at her and said, "Here we go!" and she stopped dead in her tracks, looked me right in the eyes and said, as clearly as the day is short...."I'M NOT READY, MOMMY! I'M NOT READY!"  And to think I used to worry about her language skills.  I wanted to bend down, pick her up, and run away from there, just the two of us - Thelma and Louise style.  But instead, I told her, "It's okay, honey.  I'll go with you.  Let's go together!"  Once we got up there and she saw that Sylvia and Albert were okay with The Big Man, she was fine.  Still very skeptical and quite wary about the whole thing, but she was fine.  She told him she wanted a blanket.  Sigh.  I wanted to tell him, "Santa, listen.  We have blankets.  We just don't have commercials in our house, so that's all she can think of."  Poor Little Middle Margot. 

The rest of the evening was so nice...roasted almonds, fake snow, a visit with Santa's Reindeer.  Sylvia wasn't convinced that Santa really came to Cincinnati until she saw the reindeer.  She held firm to the idea that it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, so how could Santa possibly be taking requests (good girl, right?!).  But then she saw the reindeer and she decided that our zoo was the best place for Santa to start his Christmas Tour because WE have a spot for his reindeer.  Oh, the mind of a four year old!

I was thrilled that my Mom could go with us again this year, since we decided to go at the last minute.  The same thing happened last year and that's when I dropped the "so....did you know I was pregnant?" question, which we laughed about as we held a sweet Albert in our arms.  What a difference a year makes!

The girls were SO disappointed that the gingerbread houses didn't open.  They knocked FOREVER.

"Da Nut-quacker Ba-way"

My girls are obsessed with The Nutcracker.  They've watched ten different versions on You Tube, in English and French, ballet and cartoon versions.  Mamie Brigitte came up during the first week of December to join us for The Nutcracker at the School For Creative and Performing Arts.  Nevermind the fact that I drove to the WRONG PLACE and we were 20 minutes late.  I was almost in tears as I drove around Cincy in the pouring down rain with a 2 year old in the back seat screaming, "Where's DA NUT QUACKER BA WAY?!!!"  Fortunately, a guy was STILL talking on stage when we walked in and found our seats!  Another Christmas Miracle!  I couldn't believe it.  The girls LOVED every second of it, especially this photo op at intermission!

Saint Nick Day!

St. Nick filled our stockings on December 6th.  The girls had fun finding stickers and crafts and puzzles and coloring books.

Great Wolf Lodge

Mom and Jay decided to gift all of us a night at GWL in Mason, Ohio this year.  Let me tell you - that was a good idea!  Aside from being a lodge with a gigantic waterpark, they also decked the halls for Christmas.  Since I'm A BRILLIANT MOTHER, I dressed my kids in their Christmas clothes in the hopes we could snap a good picture for the Christmas card as soon as we got there and before we changed into bathing suits.  That was also a really good idea.  Behold, the cutest kids on the planet:

After an afternoon of swimming and a pizza dinner, we all met at Grammy and Poppie's room for the big present surprise....matching pajamas!  Mom is also a genius (now you know where I get it) and she packed a second gift for each kid that they were allowed to open if they sat still and smiled for pictures.  Worked like a charm!  Look at these beauties:

We had to pull in a stranger from the hallway to take the whole group photo, but it was fun.  We missed Jordan, though - he couldn't make it.  Maybe next year!

 I tried to get a few good shots of individuals and families.

After pictures, the kids got their goodie bags.  Coloring books and stickers.  God's greatest bounty!

My mom created a Christmas Trivia game for the older kids (2 - 5 year olds!).  I've said it once and I'll say it again - that woman missed her calling.  She should have been a preschool teacher.

We played "Pin the Star on the Tree" which turned into - put all your stickers on the tree!

The kids were up super late, and the grown ups had a *really* good time celebrating the season, if you know what I mean.  My siblings and I *may* have gone to the hotel bar in our matching pajamas.  We stayed to swim the entire next day and it was a magical weekend.

The rest of the month has been spent fighting off illness, building up a dwindling milk supply, and getting ready for Christmas!  We've been baking and wrapping and caroling and practicing for tomorrow night's pageant.  I can't remember EVER being this excited for Christmas to come...not even when I was little myself.  Albert's going to be baby Jesus, okay?  He performed beautifully during practices, as did his sisters.  Margot's "Joy to the World" is sure to land her a starring role on Broadway any day now.  Tonight I just sat back and watched ALL THREE of my kids up front in church and I shook my head because HOLY COW, how did this happen to me?  Never in a million years would I have guessed that the holidays could be this awesome.

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