Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012

Aiden and his Santa hat on "Christmas Day" in Minnesota.  We are waiting for Luke and Liam to wake up.

The aftermath

The night before (pictures are reversed, but anyway you get the idea).  The boys got new sleds for winter and some riding toys (scooter, big wheel razor thing) for spring along with lots of other items.

Making cookies with Caitlin, Ella, and Aunt Ann

Sampling Hershey Kisses with Cousin Ella

Christmas Day in Cincy

I-phone and I-pad for Aiden and Cousin Jacob

Building with Legos in Caitlin's room

All the Cincy cousins getting ready to open gifts from Grandma, Grandpa, and the gift exchange

Liam and ACE

Luke on the ice rink

Liam and Aiden playing hockey on the rink

Liam on the ice

AJ showing me his hockey face


We spent this Christmas in Cincinnati, Ohio with John's family.  I have been asked several times how we typically "do Christmas" and if we take all the presents on our trip so I will explain a little.  We have the boys write a letter to our Cowboy Elf telling him about our upcoming trip and asking him if he will bring some presents early in Minnesota and save one or two presents for our Christmas destination (Arkansas or Ohio).  So, we pick a weekend before our trip and we have Christmas Day at the house in Minnesota.  We wake up and open gifts, play with the new toys, and celebrate Christmas together.  We only take around 2-3 gifts for each of the boys to open on Christmas Day because they typically also have gifts from cousins and grandparents so they don't notice one way or the other.  It has worked well for us and saves us from hauling a lot of stuff in the car! 
We had a wonderful Christmas in Cincinnati this year and the boys were so sad to leave.  They loved playing with all of their cousins more than anything.  Second to that, was definitely playing with all the animals.  The boys are definitely beginning their negotiations for a puppy, especially Liam.  Aunt Ann and family received a puppy for Christmas this year and Aunt Jennifer already has a puppy (ACE), both dogs the boys adore.  The boys enjoyed playing lots of games, baking cookies, doing crafts, going swimming, watching cousin Jacob play hockey, building with legos, watching movies, etc...They had a blast with their cousins.  I have to give a lot of credit to Caitlin and Ella for a most relaxing holiday complete with several uninterrupted dinners and free time to shower, drink coffee, or do nothing at all.  The girls are wonderful babysitters and entertainers!
Lastly, as we were preparing the leave for Christmas, we were also finalizing the ice rink as the temperatures were beginning to drop.  John and our neighbor filled the rink with water and by the time we returned from Christmas break, we had ICE!  SOLID ICE!  The boys are warming up to the idea and have really enjoyed playing on it.  They love playing on the ice with their boots on as much as they do with skates.  The neighborhood kids have also really loved it so it has been a great activity over the last few days as the temperatures have not gotten above 20 degrees!  After watching a few hockey games over the holidays, the boys seem to have a new interest in learning how to skate better so we are optimistic this will continue. 
Happy New Year from our family to Yours!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Programs and Cowboy Elf

Aiden and Daddy at the school Christmas programs over the weekend.  Aiden was being a bit of a stinker at this point.

Luke and Liam in their Christmas program at school

Luke as "Santa" with his very cute reindeer

Liam played the part of a penguin and did a perfect little penguin dance that made everyone laugh

Trying to get a picture after the program

Family picture

After Luke and Liam performed, we had Aiden's program

AJ played the guitar in a "Bayou Christmas"
3rd Annual Christmas Movie night with our friends Jack, Charlie, and Andy
We had another eventful weekend with holiday programs for all three boys.  Luke and Liam sang in church on Sunday morning and then we headed home for a quick lunch before leaving for the school programs.  This was right around naptime for Aiden so his enthusiasm was fading by the time of his program, but he did wonderfully.  Everyone sang and stood nicely for the program in hopes of getting to visit with Santa and enjoy Christmas cookies afterwards. 

On another note, here are a couple of funny things that have happened this year with our Elf on the Shelf, "Cowboy" Elf.
1.  The boys have started to notice that Cowboy always appears in places that are pretty high off the ground.  They know the number one rule with Cowboy is you cannot touch him or he will lose his magic.  Mom and Dad are a little afraid that touching Cowboy is too tempting so we always pick pretty high places to hide him like near the top of the Christmas tree on one occasion.  We had Cowboy holding the ornament that we gave each of the boys this Christmas.  He held Luke and Liam's at the top of the tree, but AJ wanted his ornament left at the bottom.  Then, the other day, Aiden suggested moving one of his ornaments up to the top of the tree so that Cowboy would sit by it.
2.  Aiden woke up one day this week screaming at the top of his lungs..."Cowboy, where are you?"  Cowboy, Cowboy, where are you?"
3.  One of the not so desirable things that has happened with Cowboy is our urge to tell him when someone is not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Rather than running to tell mom or dad, we run to tell Cowboy whatever it is that our brother just got in trouble for. 
4.  Luke has come up with several great questions about Cowboy such as, what does he eat, where does he sleep, how does he go to the bathroom, or how does he get in the house?  His conclusion was that maybe Cowboy eats and goes to the potty while we are gone during the day.  We are still not sure how he gets in the house, though. 
5.  My sister sent us a "Cowboy care package" complete with school pictures from each of the boys with Cowboy.  She wrote personal notes to each of the boys (on behalf of Cowboy) and discussed what they were doing well and a few things they should work on.  One of the big things we try to work with Aiden on is staying in his chair at dinner.  If he isn't hungry or interested in eating, he is a jack in the box getting up and down at the table.  When Cowboy mentioned in his letter that Aiden should work on sitting better at the table, Aiden's face lit up light a lightbulb!  We had quite a peaceful dinner that night.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Fun

Checking out one of the exhibits at "A Day in the Life of an Elf" at Macy's in downtown Minneapolis

(L to R) Graham, Luke, Charlie, Aiden, and Jack

Checking out some of Santa's mail

The Whole Gang!  (L to R): Luke, Charlie, Graham, Jack, Andy, Aiden, and Liam

Getting ready for the pupet show to begin. 
Getting ready to go down the hill with Daddy

Hmmm...what should I do with this one.  Eat it or put it on the house?

The finished products.  This was one of our snowy day projects.

Liam is hard at work

Luke working on his house

Silly Cowboy Elf eating some of our Halloween candy.  That little chair is hanging on the wall.  We still have to pick places high above the ground so its not too tempting to touch the Elf.

As is typical for this time of year, we have had lots of different activities to keep us busy.  At the end of last week, we visited Macy's in downtown Minneapolis with our best friends Jack, Charlie, and their younger brother Andy (as well as the little boy their mom babysits who is Aiden's age).  That's a lot of boys to take downtown at Christmas!!  Macy's has a holiday display called "Santa's Wonderland" and the theme is "A day in the life of an Elf."  There are all types of life size figures of elves, christmas trees, presents, and other types of things that move around while you walk through the exhibit.  Its a bit like something you would see at Disneyland.  Very festive and entertaining for the boys.  After we walked through, we went to a puppet show that lasted about 30 minutes.  The boys LOVED it and never moved the entire time.  We topped it off with lunch and then headed home to rest.  It was a fun way to celebrate this time of year. 
Over the weekend, we were pounded with a huge storm and probably received close to a foot of snow.  We were originally only supposed to get 3-4 inches, but apparently the storm was bigger than anticipated.  The boys loved playing the snow and even expressed concern that we stay out longer in case the snow isn't here tomorrow.  Apparently they don't remember that the snow that comes in December doesn't leave until spring.  

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December has arrived!!

Liam, Luke, and Aiden with the Christmas Elves at John's office party

Aiden wanted to go over and dance with the elves

Visiting with Santa

Filling Santa in on our ideas for Christmas gifts

Enjoying some cookies and hot chocolate

Getting ready to sing at the parade in our town.  Thankfully, it was a warmer than normal evening for December.

Singing with several other children from the boy's preschool  Aiden is really not that small compared to other kids, he's just A LOT younger than everyone standing up there! 

Aiden and Liam singing
Last weekend was fairly busy for us with a Christmas Party at John's office as well as the boy's singing at the parade in our town with a few other friends from their preschool.  We have been counting down the days until we could start moving Santa along in the advent calendar and when Mr. Cowboy Elf would arrive.  December 1st could not come soon enough for the little people at our house!  The boys have been working on their behavior because, of course, "Cowboy is watching."  Each time one of them does something they are not supposed to do, one of their brothers will remind them that "Cowboy is going to tell Santa what you did."  Its actually great incentive.  John has the task of moving Cowboy around the house each night because I am not the best at remembering to do this.  Cowboy was recently found tangled in some Christmas lights hanging from the window and another day he was sitting on top of the hanging light above the stairs.  Happy Holidays!