Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Dear Em,
When I was growing up & my Dad was in the Navy, his schedule wasn't always predictable. There were times that he was forced to work on holidays, & we learned to celebrate when we could be together instead of when the calendar told us to. This is a tradition we have continued with our little family, & it's the reason why we have already celebrated our Christmas Eve.

Since we typically visit my family for the holidays, we celebrate Christmas & Christmas Eve earlier in December. We "wrote a letter to Santa" explaining that we would be traveling & asking if he would make a special exception. We were fortunate that he agreed to visit our home a little early, & that's how we found ourself celebrating "Christmas Eve" on December 13th.

It wasn't Christmas Eve for the rest of the world, & you went to school that day while Daddy & I went to work. You were abuzz with excitement. I love that holidays are so magical for you. I tried to get into the spirit of the season, but I had a little bit of a rough day. I had so much to do, & almost everything about my day seemed to have the intention of slowing me down. I felt a little irritated when we finally got home.

Daddy could see it in my face & hear it in my voice. He gave me a look- a look that reminded me it was "Christmas Eve." I don't always make the right decisions, but I feel like I did that night. I took a deep breath, exhaled, & decided to let it all go & enjoy the magic of my family & the holiday.

Then we baked cookies.

We made hot cocoa (mine had coffee & melted candy cane in it) & watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

We opened our one gift & put our new, comfy Christmas PJs on. Then we snuggled on the couch & read Christmas books.

We left some of our freshly baked cookies for Santa & a carrot for Rudolph.

We said goodbye to Elfie before heading up to bed & saying our prayers.

Daddy & I snuggled with a glass of a wine & watched a movie while we waited for you to drift off to dreamland.

Then Daddy & I got to play Santa. I can't tell you how fortunate I felt to be able to play Santa with Daddy that night.

It may have taken me a little while, but I'm glad I remembered the magic of Christmas Eve before it was too late. There are so many precious moments I would have missed out on & memories I wouldn't have been able to make. I'll only be able to celebrate Christmas Eve with our bright eyed almost four year old once, & living in those moments made this Christmas Eve the sweetest one yet.

I love you so,

Monday, December 23, 2013

Scrapbooking With Kids

Dear Em,
Looking back through all the pictures & memories from this year, we've had a really amazing year. Your year was made so much sweeter by the fact that you were able to share so much of it with your best friend, S. We started the year with your very first time on ice skates. You visited the Easter Bunny & hunted for eggs. You shared your three and a half birthday weekend together, & had your very first double sleepover (& second & third & fourth). There were beach days, parades, trips to the zoo, fun at Waterfires, & rest time with movies. We made nachos & ate Dels, played at the park & jumped on the trampoline. We shared the best New Hampshire trip ever with S & her family. There was face painting & Umbrella Factory & trick or treatingfestivals & The Nutcracker On Ice.

In so many ways S & her family have become such a special part of our family. We've had such a fun filled year, & we wanted to let S know how special it was to us to share so much of our year with her. We decided to make her a scrapbook filled with this years precious moments.

First I printed pictures I had taken of the two of you this year. There were a lot, like a real lot, somewhere around 140. I honestly had forgotten about some of the special moments until I looked through the precious photos. I purchased a photo album & filled it with your memories. Then you & I decorated it together. I let you do most of the work, but guided you here & there. You used stickers, stamps, rainbow letters, & your own illustrations. It was a lot of work for a little love, but you enjoyed making something for your best friend.

I think your hard work paid off when we saw little S smile as she opened it up. She looked through each & every page like it was such a special treasure. My heart melted.

We also gifted her a scrapbooking kit. I can see the two of you putting together you fun & sweet memories for years to come. You were thrilled to. You received a tutu for your doll & a Hello Kitty nightgown.

We laughed as we watched the two of you squeal as you opened Christmas gifts together. At the same time, I know the best gift of all is not something that you opened that night. Your friendship & the friendship we have as families is one of the best gifts we could ever receive- & the fact I get to watch two of the cutest & sweetest girls grow up together.

I love you so,

Friday, December 20, 2013

love letters

Dear Em,
Typically I write your teachers a letter of thanks included with a gift for the holidays (Dec 2011, May 2012, Dec 2012). This year we made your teachers little owl ornaments & a beach bag, which seemed particularly appropriate after you spent six weeks studying owls in your classroom. When it came to a letter of thanks, I thought your words would be much better than ours. So, you wrote your teacher a letter.

I asked you what you wanted to say to Miss K & recorded your words in yellow. Then you traced the letters in orange (her favorite color). I think it will put a smile in her heart to see how much you appreciate everything she does. Here's what you wrote (in case you can't read all the words above)...

Dear Miss K,
I love you for everything. Thank you for everything you do. I like it when you learn with us and help us do new things.
Love, Emma

I hope she knows how much we all appreciate her. Last year was tough for us. You cried everyday you had to go to school, & I worried that you had already lost your love for learning & school. It was like a light went out. We've seen you light up again this year. You're so excited to learn & play at school that you sometimes complain that we've come to pick you up from school too early. I love that Miss K has brought back the fun of school & learning again. I love hearing about the sweet things you learned & did each day. I love how patient she is with you while still setting guidelines & boundaries (you so need that).

I hope Miss K knows what a difference she has made in your life & in ours & how she will always have a special place in our hearts because of it.

I love you so,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

barely enough snow

Dear Em,
Last week we had our first glimpses of snow. It snowed on Tuesday, but we got home too late to go outside & enjoy it. It began to snow again on Saturday. It was a great day to snuggle up warm inside & watch the snow flurries. It didn't snow much during the day. There wasn't enough to snow make snowmen. The snow didn't pack well enough to make snowballs. There was barely enough snow to make snow angels. It's just...you gave us this sweet look. There was a longing in your eyes. What you wanted more than anything else in the world was to play in the fluffy snow.

So, outside we went. There wasn't much snow, but it turns out we didn't need a lot to make magical memories.

I love you so,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mailing Your First Letter to Santa

Dear Em,
Since you wrote your very first letters, your letter writing has become one of your favorite things. You'll sit for quite a while, trace over the each yellow letter, & include pictures. You couldn't have been more excited to write a letter to Santa. You knew you wanted to ask for an American Girl Doll, but you & Daddy & I talked about other topics to include. Daddy & I thought that your behavior should be mentioned. You weren't very concerned about trivial things like behavior, but once we mentioned Rudolph, you wanted to make sure he was included in your letter as well. So, I asked you what you wanted to say, & wrote the words in yellow.

You set to work tracing over the words in multi-colored markers, & even included a picture of you & the doll you hope to receive. We planned to go to Macys the next day & drop your letter off in the special red mail box, but the winter weather changed our plans. We had our very first snow that day, & with everything blanketed in white, I was afraid of how the roads would be. We traveled home instead so that you could mail your letter in our own mailbox.

I know that our mailbox isn't big or red, but it was still kind of a magical setting to drop off your very first letter to Santa. Fluffy whiteness covered everything, the Christmas lights had just turned on, our candles were twinkling, & you could just see our Christmas tree through the window. It was truly a winter wonderland.

I love you so,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our DIY Owl Christmas Ornaments

Dear Em,
I've loved sweet, little owls since you were born. Your room is filled with them & so are some of your outfits. So, when your teachers announced last month that you would be studying owls in the classroom, you couldn't be more excited. You were excited to bring in books & stuffed animals from home to add to the lessons. Probably your favorite part of the lesson plan was the field trip to look at and talk about real life owls. You came home & told us all about their curved beaks, talons, & silent feathered wings.

I saw the most adorable photo of a little owl Christmas ornament & thought making our own would be especially fitting for our DIY Christmas ornaments this year. You were already excited to be crafting with me, but making owls made you even more excited.

First we went to the store to buy supplies. This project was relatively cheap. The supplies cost around $30 to make more than 20 ornaments. We needed:
- cinnamon scented pinecones
- gold felt, brown felt, tan felt, white felt (We bought two squares of each)
- glittery gold paint
- buttons
- thin cranberry ribbon

From the felt, I cut out gold triangles for the beak, brown wings, gold hearts for the feet, & figure eight shapes in tan & white for the eyes.

You helped by painting the pinecones in glittery gold (& a few in glittery pink for you & some of your special friends). Our paint stunk, & I wondered if it even mattered that we were using cinnamon scented pinecones, but the cinnamon scent came right back once the paint dried.

Unfortunately, that was the extent of you being able to help with this DIY project. I had to use a glue gun to put everything together, & I didn't want you to get burned. I spent a couple nights after you went to bed putting them all together while movies played in the background (I find the Christmastime is the best time for rewatching movie & TV show marathons). While it was time consuming (more so than last year's ornaments), it actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And we just love how our cute little ornaments came out.

You are thrilled to give little gifts to our friends & family & your teachers that you helped make this year. I truly enjoyed crafting with my little love. I can't tell you how amazing it is to have a little crafting buddy.

I love you so,

Monday, December 16, 2013

UglySweaterThanksmasSwap 2013

Dear Em,
I love Thanksgiving. I love the tradition. I love getting together with family. I love the food. I love the leftovers. Sadly, we don't often get to enjoy the yumminess of leftover turkey sandwiches the day after  Thanksgiving, because we don't host Thanksgiving at our own home. To remedy this & to provide an opportunity to celebrate with our friends, we started a new tradition when we moved into our home: Thanksmas Swap. It's a combination of Thanksgiving & Christmas (or other December holidays), & has become one tradition I cherish the most. We have such dear friends, & it's an amazing thing to be able to celebrate the wonderful moments of a year gone by with some of the people who have been a great part of it.

Our event is not really designed for kids, & most of our friends that attend don't have kids. However, you do enjoy a fun party & we like to include you until it's bedtime. As our guests arrived, you were thrilled to welcome them & even receive your very first Christmas gifts of the year. Your favorite? A Princess Sofia costume (that you immediately put on & refused to take off for 48 hours until I had to wrestle it off you to get you into the bath).

You also gave gifts.

Board games are typically a part of our late night party activities, but you & some of our friends got the night started with Hello Kitty Bingo & the LadyBug Game.

When the games were done (you told me that you won because it was your "special day" & you got unlimited rolls of the die), we shared a fun & yummy dinner with all our friends.

This year we added an Ugly Sweater component to our party, & you were excited to take pictures with our crowned winner before bedtime. Then we took pictures of all the ugly, festive sweaters.

Sadly, you were carried up to bed before it was time for Yankee Swap. While you would have enjoyed helping others open your gifts, the gifts haven't always been appropriate in nature. So, you said your goodnights, & the competitive swap began.

We had some really interesting gifts this year.

After everyone had their gifts in hand...for better or for worse...we all sat around our dining room table & played some hilarious board games. It was such a fun night & so wonderful to catch up & celebrate with some of the most amazing friends, near & far. I'm so thankful for everyone of them & wish them love & joy this holiday season.

I was also thankful for the leftovers. We'll be eating turkey sandwiches for weeks...& I'm going to love every bite.

I love you so,

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