Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Christmas came so quickly this year, in fact, this whole year has flown by!  

We started by decorating the tree right before we went to Boston.  

Philip playing under the tree, up to this point, he could only crawl backwards

Natalie decorating the tree

A few weeks later, it was Christmas eve.  Every year since we had Natalie, we have taken family photos in front of the tree.  As she grew it got harder and harder to get a photo with everyone looking at the camera at the same time.  This year was probably the hardest.  

Almost everyone was smiling and looking at the camera...

Thankfully we got a few, although, we might try again, to see if we can get a better one. 

Christmas eve, Natalie spread the Reindeer food all around the yard, we put out cookies and a mug of Sprite for Santa and three carrots for his reindeer.  Well, it worked and Santa came and there were presents for everyone to open.  

Here are the presents after Santa wrapped and arranged them under the tree.

Christmas morning, Philip woke up at 7:00 and Phil took him to play downstairs until Natalie woke up.  Natalie woke up at 8:30 and was happy to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer until the rest of the family showed up to watch the unwrapping. 

Opening presents

Philip was SO tired by the time all the presents were open and passed out on Phil's shoulder. He has turned into a total cuddle bunny.  

There is Christmas in a nutshell


The last day of November, Natalie had her big holiday dance performance.  We got her dressed in her jingle bell costume and made our way to the festival she was performing at and waited for it to start.  She had a great time running around the open space while we waited and was very excited to get to wear lipstick and blush for the performance.  

pre performance

sort of dancing during the performance

It was so fun watching her get up on the stage.  She saw us sitting in the front row and immediately ran over to us and tried to sit with us instead of being on the stage.  The teacher got the girls lined up and the music started and Natalie was mesmerized by the audience so she just bounced up and down instead of doing the dance.  Then towards the end of the dance, she sprang into action and finished the dance with the other girls.  It was so funny, and because it was so funny, the video we have of it is too shaky because I was laughing so hard watching it. 

Can't wait for the spring performance!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas DIY

For holiday gifts this year, Natalie and I made a few different things.  Last year I did a lot of baking, this year, very little baking, more use of the hot glue gun.  

First up is the Tea Wreath.  I cut circles out of cardboard and Natalie and I covered them with scrapbook paper.  Then we covered clothes pins with more craft paper and glued them to the circles then added little holiday-ish decals and added tea to every clothes pin and a bow.  
Tea Wreath

Next up was vanilla cranberry vodka.  I took a big bottle of vodka and split it between three smaller ones.  I decided to add a little sweetness to the vodka, so I made a simple syrup, and added the cranberries and vanilla beans to that to soak up the sweet.  Next I put the cranberries and vanilla into the vodka and shook it up.  Put the label on it and tied a bow - bam, gift.  Oh, and it is yummy.  Christmas morning my brother made a delicious drink by adding some of this vodka to crushed ice, orange juice and a peach from some home-canned peaches and stirred it around.  So good!

Vanilla Cranberry Vodka

I also decided to make S'more's kits too.  I put a can of sterno, a bag of marshmallows, bag of graham crackers, two bars of chocolate and a few skewers into a box and wrapped it up and added the tag to "enjoy S'more holiday time together".

Lastly, Natalie and I mixed up a few packages of reindeer food that we gave to a few friends, and forgot to give to a few others...Natalie enjoyed sprinkling it around our yard on Christmas eve to lure the reindeer to our house, and it worked!

**Side note - the vodka and wreath photos were taken with Phil's iPhone...the others? our camera.  Remember when photos taken with a phone were deemed "crappy phone photos"?  no longer

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Spirit

Over the past week and a half, I've been spending way too much time making crafty presents, shopping for presents, wrapping them and trying to spread Christmas cheer to everyone.  Well, Christmas cheer smacked me in the face yesterday.  I was reminded that it doesn't have anything to do with presents you buy - it is the joy they bring.  It isn't the stuff you make, it is the love you give away to the recipient.  It isn't the wrapping, but the light in the eyes of someone who sees you care.

I've spent a lot of money and time on gifts and really, it is the simple act of washing the dishes, or taking someone to a movie, hanging Christmas lights for your sister who can't or investing in your brother when he needs it.  Don't get me wrong, I love creating gifts, I love shopping and I know that I couldn't tell Natalie that Santa didn't bring gifts because love is all we need and he knew that spending time together is really what Christmas is about.  But, honestly, it is.  So, while I'll continue to wrap, buy and make in these last few days before Christmas, I'll also try and remember what this time of year is all about and enjoy more of the excitement and joy that comes along with the wrapping, buying and making.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Houston, we have a crawler

Philip has been toying with the idea of crawling for a while, but he officially started over the weekend.  It is funny, Natalie first crawled to get to a cell phone, Philip crawled to the stroller so he could play with the wheels. Difference between boys and girls?

This all happened on a trip for work to Boston the first few days of December.  My mom and Philip tagged along with me for the quick trip, but there wasn't enough time to do much other than hang out at the hotel and there was too much flying within the span of three days.  We left Sunday, traveling from here to Cincinnati then on to Boston.  Philip was wonderful on the plane, slept a little, played a lot, and made nary a noise.  We got to Boston, took a taxi to our hotel and were greeted by a friend of mine who lives near Boston.  She brought us a platter of cheese, hummus, carrots and grapes, crackers, lemon drop martinis and a bottle of wine. OH, and presents for Philip, Natalie, me and my mom. It was the best welcome I've ever had.

The next day I worked and then my friend met back up with us for dinner and more chatting.  Once again, she outdid herself.  She picked up dinner, brought wine and was fine to just sit in the hotel with us so Philip could play - much easier than trying to drag him out to a restaurant.  The next day, I worked a half day, then picked up mom and baby and drove to the airport.  We left in plenty of time, fearing lots of traffic and a busy airport...well, we encountered neither of those and were at the gate with two hours to spare.  We were able to let Philip take a cat nap, get some food, buy some water and then board the plane for the LONG flight home.  We took a direct, just over 5 hour flight.  That is a long flight sitting in first class, but put you in coach, with a baby?  Makes it feel like 10 hours.  But, as he always is, Philip was SO good on the flight and it was actually a pretty empty plane, so we had an entire row to ourselves, which made it easier.  He had his own seat, although he could be found more often either sitting on my lap or nursing.  This is the main reason he likes flying - he gets to sit on my lap and nurse whenever he wants.  He only slept for about 30 minutes on this flight, right at the beginning, and by the end of that 5 hours he was ready to be home and asleep!

My dad picked us up at the airport, drove us home and we crashed.  It was a great quick trip and I'm so glad I was able to see my friend Maria!  Only wish it had been longer, so I could have made it to her house to see her adorable dogs.