Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gingerbread Houses & Men

We had never done Gingerbread Houses with Connor before as he just was too little. But this year, we thought it'd be fun. As I've mentioned before, I always do them with my 7th graders and their little buddies (kindergartners) and it's such a blast.

To be perfectly honest, I thought this year we'd do it for the sake of doing it, but that he'd probably not really understand it. Boy was I wrong!!! How he even knew what to do, I have no idea. I glued the house together and the roof, but he did all the rest! We honestly didn't even show him what to do; he just instinctively knew to "glue" the candy to the outside of the house! Of course, once he tried a piece of candy, it went downhill. For dessert that night, we let him eat his gingerbread house (which consisted of eating a couple of pieces of the candy, and a few graham crackers.

Next year we'll have to compare his gingerbread house! I bet he'll be really good by next year!
Aiden and Isabella watched Connor. We put them in their car seats and had them sit down on the floor. It was very sweet because Connor kept pulling them closer and closer to his house. He would say, "Izzy turn? Aiden turn?"  
Connor is in a phase where he must label everything by owner. He walks around the house and asks, "Izzy pants? Connor Mater? Aiden ball?" For a few days after he made his gingerbread house, he'd pass by it and say, "Connor's house!" So precious!
This morning Connor and I woke up early to finish out 2011 in the holiday spirit!! We had a little Gingerbread Man Pajama Party. I'm forewarning you that I'm not wearing any make-up. I thought about airbrushing my face, but some day in several years I'll think, What was I complaining about? I looked so young! All I see now are the dark black circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. Have I mentioned how little sleep we're getting?!? A week ago, we were averaging 1-2 hours of sleep a NIGHT. Now we're at maybe four or five. It's a lot better, but we are TIRED!

Things are always so much more fun in your pajamas! Have you ever noticed that?
I wish I had gotten a picture, but Connor went and grabbed his hammer. I sent Mr. Howard the text below with an accompanying video!

I know I say this frequently, but I wish I could figure out a way to freeze time! I just love that Connor loves to spend time with us making gingerbread men! I know there will come a day when hanging out with his mom in her pajamas would be horrifying and I am trying to soak in these moments now.

Sushi and Lights

With Mr. Howard's parents in town, we thought it'd be fun to pile in the car and check out Christmas lights after an All You Can Eat Sushi dinner. It was soooo good! The lights, on the otherhand, were kind of a disaster. We chose a bad night to go, as everyone and their mom and distant cousins decided that was the perfect night to go (it was the night before Christmas Eve). It also happened to be a Friday night, so no one had to work the next day AND there were limo tours going on.

I defininitely want to make this a tradition, but we need to do it earlier in the season next time!

Oh my goodness. Sushi galore. Delicious!
 Beautiful Lights

 I know you can't tell. But that tree above was probably 70 feet tall. How they got those lights on there, I have no idea. They seriously needed a crane!




Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

Our Christmas Day started out a little sour. I could pretend that we had a fabulous morning with magic and fairydust. But the reality is (and I think a lot of you married people out there can relate...I hope!) that we both woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I was stressed. He was irritated. I still had wrapping to do. We both had to get ready. The babies slept VERY poorly, so we were in dire need of sleep. Connor woke up way too early. And neither of us was in the Christmas spirit. It's a bummer that we started out the day that way, because we love each other so much. But it's reality. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has days like this!

This is one of the reasons my goal next year is to have nothing to stress about. I will have all the wrapping done early and we will go to bed dreaming of sugarplums and fairies! Okay, maybe we'll just go to bed on time. How about that?!? When I told my mom and grandfather's wife, they smiled and said, "We've all been there. You have to do it to learn that you don't want to do it again." And boy have I learned my lesson. No more waiting to the last minute!

After a rough morning, a few apologies, a kiss, and a "Let's let everything go!" pep talk, we began our wonderful Christmas morning. And a wonderful day it truly, truly was! Connor, Aiden, and Isabella's Grandma got them all adorable Christmas jammies and they looked soo darn cute! 
 We headed over immediately to my mom's house, where we instantly started snapping photos of everyone! Do you see the babies' butts? I mean, really!

After opening presents for a little bit, the Kirkpatrick Clan made a phone call to our Southern California family! It was absolutely wonderful to hear my Aunt's voice after such a long time. We miss them so much!

 And then it was back to spending time with everyone! One of my favorite gifts of Mr. Howard's was this seriously cool Chapman Alumni sweater. I plan on getting him a bunch more alumni stuff for his graduation, but this was SUCH A WELL EARNED privilege to wear the sweater!!!
 I tried to snap photos of all the kiddos, adults, food, and still be present in all the moments. It wasn't really possible. I will tell you that trying to open presents for all three kids was a little overwhelming. I didn't want everyone to have to wait for us, so I was trying to do it all. My sister observed that when you have kids, you get three times as many presents. It's actually pretty true! Until, of course, they turn 3 and then the presents are allll theirs.
Aiden had a great First Christmas and looked oh-so-precious in his Santa's Helper Outfit, complete with a Santa butt (which my mother-in-law also bought for him!):
 Isabella was all smiles all the time and looked quite adorable for her first Christmas in her "I love Santa" outfit Kathe got her, complete with a reindeer butt. Have I told you how obsessed I am with outfits with adorable butts?
 Connor really "got" the opening gifts part of Christmas, although I definitely think he didn't "get" the open a present and MOVE ON part. He wanted to play with everything he opened. Hehe.
 Mr. Howard must have taken this photo of Grandpa, Aiden, and Pop Pop. I love it!
 A panoramic view of our Christmas!
My sister and Rebecca!
I tried so hard to consciously take photos of everyone...but I sorta missed my sister with the kiddos. Sorry, Katie! She was looking quite beautiful too!

My parents had just gotten a pool table for their game room and the boys spent a good portion of the day playing pool (well, that, and watching the Lakers game)!
It was such a special day, from almost beginning to end and I'm glad the babies had such a great first Christmas.

I wore my Cole footprint necklace and he was never far from my thoughts. There were a couple of moments in the day when I felt sad (especially right when I woke up, which may have contributed to the bad start to the day), but it was nothing compared to last year's Christmas (our first Christmas after he had passed away). Supposedly time heals all wounds. It's hard for me to imagine a time when I could be completely healed from the loss of a child, but I will say that time makes all wounds bearable.
I pray for all of you who have lost someone or who have someone in their lives that is struggling with their health. It is impossibly hard to fathom how difficult it is to try to celebrate when you have so much weighing on your heart. To my special angel in Heaven, I adore you and look forward to the day when I can celebrate with you in my arms. To my family in Southern California, my prayers are constantly with you. To say I wish we lived closer, is SUCH an understatement. And to my brave cousins, you are my heroes! And to my new dear friend, Rebecca, I wish I could pray away all your heartache and your mom's illness. While I have never met your mom, to have made you, she must have been pretty special. I hope we could make your Christmas as special as it could be, so far from your mom.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

We thoughtfully started a couple traditions when we got married and then a few more when we had kids. Because we had been together for so long before we got married, we intentionally talked about what traditions we could start once we became a family (of just Mr. Howard and I). The thing we came up with was that each year we would buy one small thing for each other in the form of a penguin. Over the years, we've collected lots of penguins and we always label them with the year and save them as decorations for the following year. I love that it's our tradition and it's something that we share together. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever shared it until now.

Then when Connor joined our family, again we talked about what traditions we did as kids that we wanted to do with our kids. A friend from college told me about how she would bake cookies and decorate them every year with her best friend (this year was their 23rd year doing it ). I loved the idea of that tradition and so even when Connor was only 5 months old, we baked cookies with him on Christmas Eve.

Here is the picture (to the left) of that very first Christmas Eve when we baked cookies! That first year we spent the night at my parents' house, so we baked them there that night. Now, we bake them at our own house (we haven't spent the night there since that first Christmas with Connor).
Three years later and we have baked cookies every year!
(Grandma took pictures for us! Thanks Grandma!)


This was the first year Connor actually understood some of it! He really, really helped (and made a bit of a mess), but he was able to stir the cookies with the mixer, pat down the dough real flat, and even use the cookie cutters to cut out cookies. I wish I could have enjoyed the experience more, but I was a procrastinator (hey! I have three kids 2.5 and younger) and didn't wrap my presents. Needless-to-say, I was a bit eager for Connor to get to bed.

Another tradition we started when Connor was born was hosting Christmas Eve Dinner. This is our third year doing it and we love it! This year we had more people than normal (12 of us, plus little ones). And this year I made tamales from scratch (see THIS post). I hope I can make the tamales a new tradition!

Mom, Nathan, Kathe, Rebecca, Katie, Erin, Debbie (with Aiden), and Dad:
 Uncle Colin, Nova, and Connor:

The Tamales Cooking Away!

 Rebecca and Izzy
 Rebecca and Me Making Rice:
 Everyone Eating Dinner

Connor singing Happy Birthday to Pop Pop:
 Connor helping Mama pass out the Santa's: 
 Enjoying his Santa Treat:

This year because I'm a crazy, ridiculous overachiever who needs to know when to stop taking on projects having fun baking, I also decided to make a Santa treat (above) I had seen online. Connor and I made them by ourselves in the morning (when I should have been wrapping presents, cleaning the house, picking up a tamale pan, taking care of babies). Aiden watched us and Isabella slept.

Thankfully, when I went to pick up stocking stuffers for my mom's stocking (with my sister), Rebecca and Katie offered to take all three babies for me for a few hours so I could finish cleaning, cooking, and running errands without also having to entertain the kiddos. It was unbelievably sweet and just what I needed as there was no way I would have gotten half what I did without the help (Mr. Howard was working all day until 6pm). I'm not great at asking for help, but it's hard to say no when people tell you they're going to help no matter what ask (right, Mamas?).

Next year, I am going to be way more organized, so that I can sit and enjoy the day more. My goal is to have all my Christmas Shopping and Wrapping done before my break starts so I can craft with my kids, bake, and enjoy the holiday! (Maybe if Mr. Howard has a job that works more for our family, too, I could even have a house cleaner come to take that stress off my back!).

Regardless of the craziness and running around, our Christmas Eve was still quite magical as our new family of five!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Twenty-Five Weeks Old

Aiden started to fall out of the chair and I thought about re-doing the photo, but in the interest of time we just moved on!

Isabella had a patch of hair fall out (we think at daycare), so she's looking a little bare, but still equally as adorable! Aiden has all this little fuzzy hair growing all over his head from where his newborn hair all fell out. It is seriously adorable!

They are both still in size 1-2 diapers, 0-3 (Izzy) and 3 month (Aiden) clothes. In a few days they will be six months old. How on earth is that possible?!?
 I remembered the bow half way through the photos. These teddy photos aren't very fabulous. I could have re-done them, but in the interest of time, we just moved on. (Do you see a theme here? Ha!)
I'll have their statistics (height, weight, etc.) in a few days!

Aiden and Isabella Stockings!

All my photos are still on my camera from Christmas Eve and Christmas, so I'll leave you with these quick ones for today. Mr. Howard had to go into work at 1am this morning and so he'll be home soon. I'm hoping he can get a nap in before we do stuff today!

Aiden was out cold on Grandma! Connor wanted in on the fun:
 Grandma, Connor, and Aiden
 An Isabella Stocking
 What a great Stocking Stuffer!
 Close Up of my precious baby girl!
 My handsome Aiden Stocking
 I just adore this look he's giving!
 Daddy and His Boy (in a stocking! Hehe)
I will recap our holidays soon!
In the meantime I hope everyone is having the most magical time celebrating for the holidays! And Happy Hanukkah Jen & Brett! Hope you have a great celebration tonight!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hot Tamales

For two years in a row, I have been wanting to go to my friend Mara's house to make tamales and every single year something has come up. The first year I had just lost Cole and I didn't think I'd be up to it. Last year I was pregnant with twins (and no one knew yet) and I was sooo sick. I didn't think I'd be able to make tamales or be near anyone without getting sick - so I had to cancel at the last minute. This year I was finally able to do it!!!

I am going to apologize in advance because my iPhone camera had the flash stuck on and I didn't realize (the night before I had set it to stay on flash). Oops. But I want to post the photos because they're still memories!!

Diana and Sophia!
 Connie, Mara, Melissa
 Sophia's Tamales!
Mara and Me Packaging up my Tamales!
We ate the tamales for Christmas Eve (this is our third year hosting Christmas Eve Dinner) and Tim's Birthday! They were a big hit!!! I made two dozen this year, but I think I'm going to try three or four dozen next year so I can keep some frozen for a tamale dinner later in the year!

I have lots of photos from Christmas Eve and Christmas that I'll be sharing soon!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Adore!

I just adore Christmas.
I get a few weeks off;
we sing Christmas songs;
we dance;
I play Michael Buble loudly in the house;
we have a fire going;
I bake;
and most importantly, we spend time with family!
 This is obviously the babies' first Christmas and I'm so excited for them!
I got this idea on Pinterest and appliqued these for the babies.
 Merry Christmas!
 I break out all of Connor's vests - red, green, white...
 And his sweaters
(see Aiden in the background!)
 And Harley makes it his personal mission to watch over the babies!
 Connor has gotten into the Christmas Spirit too by holding the babies' hands
(in his red vest)!
Merry Christmas Eve to all my friends and family who celebrate Christmas

And Happy Fifth Day of Hanukkah to all my friends and family who celebrate Hanukkah!

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