Christmas Cookies

Decorating cookies was never part of my Christmas traditions growing up, but JDubbs has very fond memories of it from his childhood.  After years of helping each of my kids, as well as my niece and nephew, scrape frosting across perfectly baked sugar cookies, and dump cupfuls of sugar confections on top, I can’t believe that there was ever a Christmas in my life without these memories! Plus, Polar Express pajamas make every December memory that much sweeter.  Childhood memories for the win! IMG_3238 PicMonkey Collage

From Nana and Papa to uncles and aunts to five delighted cousins, everyone gets in on the cookie-decorating fun (and tasting)!

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These are the cookies we would leave for Santa, saving the last few for weeks to make sure he gets one made with love.  These traditions are ones that I cherish, the ones that bring us together in the simple acts of spending time as an extended family.  My favorite kinds of memories, made that much sweeter.

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Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

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Merry Christmas To All!

Merry Christmas to you all!  I’m sure you are all having as wonderful a day as we undoubtedly are!

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My greatest gifts are these three little rascals, and spoiling them as much as we can today is one of my greatest joys.

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Off to spend the weekend with our wonderful family!  May your day be merry and bright!

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Farewell, 2015! Cell Phone Photo Dump

Oh, what a year! Looking at these photos, the summer seems so long ago, but I’m so very grateful every day that my phone can be handy to document the small moments that make my life so rich.

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As this week wraps up and we look forward to celebrating our eighth(!) Christmas as parents, I am aware more than ever that our greatest gifts are three healthy and wonderful children, our home, and the ability to provide them with a really remarkable holiday season. Here’s hoping I have as many small and special moments to share in the new year!

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O Christmas Tree

There is no tradition that my family has inherited from JDubbs’s side that I love more than going out to cut down our Christmas tree.  When we first moved to Vermont, I was appalled at the idea and thought the Lorax himself was going to spring from a stump and speak for the trees.  I realize now that this is a business up here that is run responsibly and well, and I feel fine about our annual foray into the forest to find the perfect Christmas tree.  This year we brought the newlyweds, Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris, along as well.

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This particular tree farm is not my favorite spot for a variety of reasons, but they do have some lovely trees.  It was pretty windy, even without a snowflake to be seen, but that didn’t deter Em, who is always Daddy’s biggest helper on his outdoor projects.  A few sure strokes and this little beauty is ours!

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Little H was NOT a fan of the cold and I don’t think she understood what in God’s name we were doing meandering through a dense forest looking for trees, especially considering that we live in the woods!  She just wanted to be warm and I can’t blame her.  Jax was completely attached to his newly minted uncle, so it was a quick turnaround once we cut down the tree to head back to the warmth of the car.

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Sorry, Dad and Em.  You’re on your own.  I’m helping Uncle Chris.

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No worries, bro.  I got this.

Everyone got a tree: Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris, Auntie Jenny, and Nana and Papa, who tried to downsize to a smaller tree this year, and  have now designated theirs a “wimpy” tree.

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They all fit in Papa’s new red pickup truck, and after lunch we all went to our respective homes for the best part–to decorate our lovely trees!

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I will never get tired of their excited voices as we (attempt to) hand out and admire the ornaments slowly, appreciating where we got each one and from whom.  I love how they insist on wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers, and how  no matter how many times we ask them not to, they still put three or four ornaments on the same branch and leave entire sections bare.  But by the end, we have more than enough ornaments to fill every crevice, and three very happy little elves.

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And one very happy Mommy! I love that it’s beginning to look so very much like Christmas!

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Holiday Mashup

We had 24 hours in Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, and we crammed as much joyful family time into that day as possible!  We started with dinner with Grampy and the cousins Wednesday night, where the kids were up to their usual Grampy shenanigans.  Wish we could have been together longer, but it was a very memorable time!

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Afterward we went back to Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris’s house for the night, and the next morning was full of many of our favorite things–food, family, Super Mario Party, and coloring.  The girls wore their fancy dresses from Amanda and Chris’s wedding (which Little H never got to wear so it was a nice excuse) and I even wrangled Jax into a sweater!  Cue obligatory family photo!

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Before Thanksgiving dinner, we helped Grammy decorate her tree while JDubbs and Amanda prepared their side dishes for the huge pot luck feast we were attending.  Decorating a tree while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was a hilarious holiday mashup, but it made the kids so excited to get our tree later that weekend!

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This year, the people who live in the same apartment complex as my mom and uncles asked if they could join our family for our beautiful meal, and of course we agreed.  It’s really quite something to hear that, in a building full of older people, so many of them are alone for Thanksgiving and just want to share a meal with others, even strangers.  Our kids brought a smile to many people’s faces, and it was in the spirit of true thanksgiving that we came together with thirty or so people to give thanks for all that we have, but most importantly each other.

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Merry Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good meal!

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Family Time

Life in Vermont when cousins visit: equal parts ridiculous, loud, loving, funny, hectic, overtired, hungry and happy. Five kids aged seven, six, five, three and two.  Our family time is certainly uniquely ours!

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The big kids did a lot less bickering, a lot more playing well alone and together.  Em really took her little cousin Stella under her wing, and watching them grow to be friends warms my heart.  The little girls were absolutely delightful to watch; Little H was beyond excited to get to see her “Stewwa May!”  Cousin dynamics have been changing for the better, and now to see all five of them such great friends, floating between groups and even mingling with the adults more often than before, makes these family-filled days better than ever.

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Family time, Whitney style.  Loving it!

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Turning Seven!

Now how exactly did this happen?  Seven!

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For his birthday, Jax wanted to go see Marvel Universe Live, which was an awesome show and very worth seeing.  Since the tickets were pretty expensive, I told him if he wanted to do that he wouldn’t get to have a big friend birthday party, a deal he agreed seemed fair.  He decided he wanted to spend his actual birthday bowling with our family, something we don’t get to do very often since it’s a bit of a drive away.  It was a quiet, lovely morning, Nana and Papa made the trip with us, and we all had a lot of fun!

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For the grown ups, it was a blast from the past, and we loved watching the kids’ enthusiasm! We all loved it!

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We headed home to build Legos, play Mario Bros. (the theme of the day) and then have cake at Nana and Papa’s.  An easy, simple, lovely day to celebrate my sweet, favorite boy.

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A very happy birthday, my dear Jax.  We love you so dearly!  You are a joy to us all, even on your most challenging day!  I love your intelligent, funny, hilarious self.  Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

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