Remember me? I had a nice, long Christmas break. This was the first time I didn't write a Christmas or New Year's post - but there was a great reason. Three great reasons, actually. Over the last two weeks, I got lost in love and play and sing a longs and books and even learned a few new things about Minecraft. Yesterday, Brian went back to school and I truly hated to see him go.
There is so much to share so I'll let the pictures tell the story...
Right before the break, Brian's school had their annual Christmas Pageant in Church! It was beautiful, as always... maybe even better than last years. Brian was an angel (in real life AND the show!) and Ed and I were happy to be able to leave Hope sleeping with a sitter so we could thoroughly enjoy the performance.
Brian was hidden behind a classmate during his part of the performance, so this is the only shot I got of him while he sat in the pew waiting to sing!
Don't even try to look for him in this mess of a video - just enjoy the adorable song. Thanks to Brian's constant practicing at home, I knew all the words!
Actually, I think my favorite part of the evening was listening to him practice on the way to church. He's always singing in the backseat!
We were so proud of our rising star.
We spent the lazy days leading up to Christmas doing fun things like "Paint Maker"...
...baking lots and lots of cookies and a pumpkin pie with gingerbread streusel.
Brian and I (but mostly Brian!) created a Gingerbread house during Hope's nap time. (Maybe next year, Hopi!)
We even took some cold weather hikes in the back yard.
Hope painted for the very first time and loved it!
Her first work of art was a Christmas gift to her Daddy. Lucky guy!
On Christmas Eve, all the stockings were hung with care. The kids were excited... even Hope, who just vibrated energy from everywhere!
She expended a LOT of that energy at Christmas Eve Mass. We assumed our usual position - in the vestibule watching it on TV. We left a large donation in the tiny box that is attached to the pamphlet and book display for obvious reasons. They were, ummm, slightly rearranged.
We took the long way home so we could look at Christmas lights and sing carols. Then, as soon as we got inside Brian helped me set the dining room table. We were dining in style for the occasion! Brian made us very fancy place cards and we even lit candles!
Before we sat down - and Hope's dress would suffer a terrible fate - I took a photo to remember how beautiful they looked. I just wish I could freeze time with my lens, too!
Ed made a delicious chicken and rice dish that is always a big hit with all of us. But no one's mind was on the food...
SANTA WAS ON HIS WAY!!! We discussed what Brian should write in his note by the cookies and he decided he wanted Santa to take a selfie.
He asked me to leave my phone by the note and everything.
The kids sat on the stairs on their way to bed for some quick pictures.
Brian was explaining to Hope that he's been able to hear Santa's bells outside since he was "little." That the year before she was too little to remember. That they better get upstairs NOW!!!!!!!
But he knows better than to rush Mommy when she's holding two cameras.
Sure enough - WE HEARD THE BELLS THAT NIGHT!!! I was reading with Brian when it happened. I had to run across the hall to Hope's room to grab her out of her crib. She was already snuggled up for the night and had no idea what was going on! We rushed to Brian's window and flung it open...
Hear for yourself!!
Brian kept repeating, "We HAVE to get to BED!" And Hope kept repeating, "Wow! Wow!" Mission accomplished.
I snuck down late, late that night and was so happy to see that Santa had made it!! I knew the kids would be really excited to see what presents he left for them.
Christmas morning Brian patiently and sweetly walked slowly down the stairs with Hope.
He was so close to making it to the end... but once he saw all the presents, see ya Hopi!!
The big reveal...
Santa is so considerate. He knows that I am stiff with arthritis in the morning so he has many of the presents already assembled and ready to play with!! I got to sit back, take photos and take in all the joy.
Hope was really good at opening the wrapped gifts!
Brian was so excited and grateful for every single gift.
He was THRILLED to get a guitar - the top item on his list.
And every Minecraft item was a huge hit!
My pictures aren't great - but you can't blur his happiness!
Hope gave Brian a zip-up Minecraft jacket that he saw in Target and desperately wanted. That Hope - she knows just how to please! Brian was over the moon.
And Brian chose a wooden block train that you can take apart and put back together because it reminded him of the one he and Gavin shared. Hope LOVES it! And I love how sentimental Brian is.
Suddenly, Brian remembered his NOTE!! He rushed to the dining room table and started reading.
Here he is reading the note and checking out what Santa left on my phone. (Excuse his stuffy nose!)
Here is the full video that Santa's elf took on my phone!
Brian watched the video carefully a few times. Then I watched him walk over to where he knew Santa had knelt and put his hands on the floor. He told me that the carpet was still a little bit warm. "It must have been where Santa's sack was sitting," he declared.
I love this boy and the magic of Christmas.
He ran down the basement to see the "bonus" present that Santa had left for him. I think it might have been just a little too heavy for the elves to carry upstairs to place under the tree. It was a punching bag with boxing gloves! He loves it.
We literally stayed in our pajamas that entire Christmas day and played with all the toys. And when it came time for bed, Brian honestly would have slept with his guitar if I had let him. He stores it carefully under his bed each night. I'm looking into a free lesson to really gauge his interest. For now, he loves to strum the strings and sing - and I love to listen.
A couple days after Christmas, we all travelled to New Jersey for Ed's Aunt Ann's 80th birthday party! Ann's children treated everyone to a generous, never ending, Dim Sum and Chinese dish feast. It was incredible. We don't get to see Ed's family as often as we'd like so it was such a big treat to see his sister, Kat...
His cousins (more like brothers!) Gary, Glenn and George...
His cousin, Leni and her daughter, Melissa...
And of course Ann's entire family - daughters in law and grandchildren and even a great grandchild...
Ed's family is so nice.
So nice that they didn't even kick us out when a certain little girl stuck her finger in the cake. Oy.
We had a lot of laughs (when I wasn't chasing Hope around the restaurant!) and can't wait for another opportunity to visit with them.
The rest of Brian's Christmas break was so much fun. I just love to watch Brian and Hope play together. He's so sweet with her! One night I found the two of them in his bedroom reading...
We had fun dressing up...
We laughed (I mean, really laughed) our way through a delicate game of Operation...
Hope tended to her Baby Alive (which fascinated all of us, to be honest!)...
And we played some rousing games of Pie Face!! Brian was a good sport!
We also spent some cold days playing outside. Hope will let you put her on the swing seat, but then she demands that you go away while she actually tries to pull and pump herself to swing. It cracks me up!
We also assembled and played on the big gift that Ed and I gave the kids for Christmas - a climbing dome. It's ultra cool (and way bigger than I thought!).
Hope enjoyed pushing her stroller all around the back yard. It was too cold for her baby, apparently.
The big news of the break was the night Brian lost his tooth!!
There is nothing more adorable than a toothless grin. Oh wait - there is. That toothless lisp!!
That night before bed, he wrote his note to the tooth fairy. He wanted to be sure that she didn't take his tooth!
The next morning he woke up to a nice note from her, a rolled up dollar bill, and a few small Minecraft figures. He was thrilled!
Here he is reading the note...
I am super excited that I get to leave all of my Christmas decorations up for another week - maybe more. This coming Saturday we are hosting my family for a late (read: relaxed!) Christmas party. This will be our first time hosting in our new home - there will be 29 of us!
But for now, we're back to the regular routine. Brian and I are up early at 6:05 to get ready for the bus at 7am. Hope and I spend our days playing and napping and, oh... now we added something new to the list. Making sure she doesn't climb out of her crib! She climbed out for the first time the other day. I'm pretty sure she's too scared to attempt it again - but if not, I have a plan.
The video monitor I have has the option to speak into a microphone that she will hear in her room. During nap time if I see her even THINKING about it, a booming voice will fill her room. "HOPE LEONG. GET DOWN NOW." She will also start wearing "wearable blankets" - which makes me very grateful that she was considerate enough to do this in the Winter. Ha! The blankets make it a little harder to swing a leg over the side. I learned that from Brian's climbing days - which shockingly, were MUCH sooner than Hope's!! I will not be moving her to a bed anytime soon unless I have to. No. Thank. You. Brian didn't move into a bed until he was three! I realize I was very lucky...and I'm hoping that luck continues with his sister.
It has been a delightful break and I was happy to spend the time I would have on this blog doing other things. As in - nothing. I did nothing. Lots and lots and lots of nothing while eating Ben & Jerry's. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season!!
(If you're wondering why I didn't mention New Years... we were asleep by 10!!)