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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So Sweet It’s Scary!

This year, Jax and Em decided to be two of their favorite characters from pop culture for Halloween: Harry Potter and Elsa (specifically, Elsa from Frozen Fever).  Little H decided that she wanted to be what she loves most in the world–Em’s sister–so she chose to be Anna to Em’s Elsa.  All three of them were so sweet, so excited, and so ecstatic to be in character, I think it may have been my favorite Halloween yet.

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These two are just a joy.  I love watching what amazing friends they are, listening to them whisper when the lights go out at night, always looking out for each other.  Little H had several ideas of what she wanted to be on Halloween, all based on her own interests and likes, but for right now, there is nothing she loves more than being as close to her sister as can be.

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This guy’s brain is always going a mile a minute, and whether it’s reading at home, processing all the incredible learning that’s going on at school, or just being the cool kid he is, nothing is more perfect for him right now than to be Harry Potter.  It is everything I cherish most about him: his sense of adventure, his love of reading, his boyish charm, his fun.  He’s counting the days until he turns 11 and fully expects an owl to arrive with a piece of parchment in its beak, inviting him to Hogwarts.

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I’m going to have to work on that.

Our afternoon and evening was filled with friends, lots of food, candy galore and very happy children.

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What a memorable holiday!  So very sweet!

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Happy Halloween!

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4th of July Favorites

I never have much to say about spending the 4th of July with my family that would sound novel; I’m sure our annual celebration looks and sounds a lot like ones happening all across the country.  What makes it special to me, and what keeps us coming back and celebrating the same way every year, is the people we spend it with and the reassuring happiness of traditions truly enjoyed.

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We had the same rockstar crew as last year, the same location, stellar fireworks and delicious food.  The biggest differences were that the kids were one year older and that much more excited, and I actually got my act together the day before to buy them red, white, and blue outfits, which the kids were WAY more excited about than I would have thought!

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We had aunts, uncles and cousins galore with us, which makes the waiting in lines and down time before fireworks just as fun as the games and prizes!  I love that my kids’ memories of holidays are mingled with thoughts of family and time together.  That means more to me than any amount of money spent or any extravagant vacation we could take.

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One thing I love about Em is how every year she patiently waits in line to get her face painted.  The woman who does it is an artist and takes her time creating beautiful works of art for all the children, so the line can be long.  But Em loves it, so we eat ice cream and wait together.

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While we were waiting, Jax played games, raced over an inflatable obstacle course, and climbed a rock wall!  He loves the carnival atmosphere!  Then with silly glasses and glo-sticks, we snuggled up on our chairs and blankets and waited for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to begin.

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The kids absolutely loved it, especially Little H! She is still talking about it weeks later, saying “Fireworks loud!” and naming all the colors she saw. IMG_5434 IMG_5437

Another awesome, memorable, festive 4th of July in the books!

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Everyone Loves To Be Loved

 Every year we make the kids a Curtain of Love full of small notes about things we love about them (how helpful you are at bedtime, our morning snuggles, reading chapter books together) and every year I am blown away by how much I love doing it.  We save the hearts so the night before Valentine’s Day I pull out dozens of love notes from JDubbs and me to them from over the years, and all we have to do is add a few more and string them on colorful ribbon we also have stashed away.  Very low stress, very high reward.

Curtains of love notes to let your kids know how much you love them on Valentine's Day!

On Valentine’s Day morning, I heard Jax’s door open, then heard him gasp in surprise.  I snuck out of bed with my phone to capture pics and watch him as he grabbed his stool and took the time to read every heart with all the reasons we love him.  Then he helped his sisters do the same.

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When he saw me, he said, “Mom! I forgot about these! I love this!” And my mommy heart was full.

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Then the kids headed downstairs for homemade waffles and a few sweet surprises (books, one small toy, Paw Patrol pups, cards, and silly headbands).  It doesn’t take a lot to make them feel special–just thoughtful gifts that let them know we listen to them and know what they like, and want them to feel loved today and every day.

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Throughout the day we had lots of family fun–JDubbs took them to build an igloo outside, Nana brought treats and Auntie Jenny came by with Valentines for them.  What is better than a day that celebrates how much you love each other?

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Maybe some flowers from my hubby.  Everyone loves to be loved.

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Happy Valentine’s Day one and all!

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Date Night

The night before Valentine’s Day, JDubbs and I each had a big date planned.  The funny thing was, it wasn’t with each other!  JDubbs and Em had big plans to go to the father/daughter dance in town put on by the rec department, and Jax and I made a deal to spend the evening together after Little H went to bed.

Getting Em ready for the dance was absolutely hilarious.  First of all, she had a vision about how she wanted to look and was very determined to make it happen.  She and Nana painted her nails earlier in the day and she asked me to blow dry her hair straight.  Baby girl wanted a blow out!  She was very excited to see how long her hair would be.

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Then she asked me to put makeup on her.  JDubbs had come home the other night with some free sample of very colorful eyeshadow, and Em was thrilled to give it a try.  Of course she insisted on wearing blue, to match her dress.

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Then she and her Daddy were off to the ball.  She wanted to wear high heels but with all the snow I insisted she wear her snow boots.  So, being the smart girl she is, she put a pair of fancy dress up high heels in her purse along with her lip gloss.  She just cracks me up.

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After Little H went to sleep, Jax and I were able to spend some quality time together of our own.  When I asked him what he’d like to do, he said he wanted to do his three favorite things: eat ice cream, play video games, and snuggle.  All at the same time.

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He and I had such a fun, silly time together.  Playing Super Mario Bros. has never been so much fun!  I think this should become an annual tradition–spending special time together with all the ones we love on Valentine’s Day!

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The Original Besties

Since Jax is in school all day during the week, sometimes I feel like I have a disproportionate amount of photos of Em with Little H, her new little bestie and protege.  But we can’t forget the countless days, moments, and memories of Jax and Em, the original besties, and I have to remember how they are really thick as thieves, even as their daily lives evolve and they spend more time apart.

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While Little H was napping, I asked them to pose for a few photos in front of the Christmas tree.  I wanted to capture the Christmas lights bokeh (basically I wanted them to be blurry) and the kids know it’s fruitless to argue when Mommy has a photo in mind.

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They also know that when it comes to impromptu photos, sometimes the sillier the better, and Mommy loves their silly smiles, crazy hugs, and true personalities way better than a cheesy smile.

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I have to remember that every family dynamic is important to document, and Little H doesn’t have to be in every sibling photo.  These two partners in crime’s relationship deserves to shine, too!

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Love this silly pair!

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