Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 So far this month we had a visit from Papaw and his son, Jackson (pictured in background).  It was a wonderful visit.  Magnolia and George are always thrilled to see their papaw.  We went to Discovery World, out for lunch, and then ice skating downtown.  I managed to have all three kiddos on the ice by myself while George II and George III sat inside Starbucks watching.  Then George IV, Magnolia, and I soon followed.  It was Jackson who stayed out there the longest, seemingly loving his first time on ice skates!  Inside Starbucks, Magnolia stood in line and ordered her first hot chocolate all by herself paying by scanning her daddy's phone.  This made many people in line smile!
 Of course, we are back at the house projects.  One thing always leads to another.  In this case, I removed all of the framed photographs hanging in the upstairs hall to the wall leading up the stairs.  This left a big bare spot upstairs.  I asked George to build a frame and stretch canvas over it.  He then painted it white and set Magnolia up with paints and let her paint!  We love it so much that George did another canvas for George.  Every couple of months we can paint over it and let them do another masterpiece.  :)
 George, like me, has a real love for cookies.  So, anytime he says he wants to bake cookies, I'm game! This morning I asked him to find a warm spot for the butter to get a little soft.  I laughed out loud when he let me to the "perfect spot."  Can you see it?  That little ray of sunshine in our mudroom on a cold January day.  Oh, he is such a corker!
 I had this huge frame for a long time that I picked up at Goodwill.  A few years ago I painted over the art with cream colored chalkboard paint and wrote a quote on it with pink chalk.  One day Georgie smeared the chalk with his little hands.  When I tried to wash away the chalk, it stained so I had to think of something new.  I repainted the canvas, put these stickers on, and then painted it over in pink paint I already had.  When it was dry, I peeled off the stickers.  Now, every time I go to the bathroom I get that song stuck in my head.  :)
 In other news, we have been doing play dates.  Knowing that Magnolia and her friend were going to have to walk the whole way home (almost a mile) because I don't have a big enough car, Georgie and I decided to surprise them with a hot chocolate party.  Georgie chose the crackers and filled the bowls with marshmallows.  I left the hot chocolate warming on the stove.  It was a great surprise to the girls!
Now it seems winter is settling in and while we don't have any snow on the ground, it is beyond freezing.  So cold we dare not go out and that certainly means no walking!  Hoping it warms up soon before we get cabin fever!

Other things on the burner:  

  • Filling our calendar in the months to come, including some travel plans, yeah! 
  • Dining room is filled with sewing projects and I have something exciting arriving tomorrow to add to my sewing projects!
  • Georgie's room in nearly complete.  I will have to wait for his windows to defrost so I can get good light to photograph!  :)
  • Magnolia and I have been working on filling a photo album of our trip to China.  While I was feeling terrible about taking so long to do this, it is actually perfect timing.  I sort and Magnolia puts the pictures in. I tell her about each picture as we go.  We do a roll of film a night and while I love reliving the memories, she loves hearing them!
  • George is going to rebuild Magnolia's bed next.  Her headboard is an antique for a full bed.  Her bed is a queen.  He is going to add to it and build the frame to make it all more substantial.  Initially he painted it pink but it's the wrong pink and when it's done, it will get a fresh coat of white!
  • The playgroup a friend and I started up in the fall seems to have fallen in a good routine.  We've added friends as we go and meet every other Wednesday and sometimes more often than that.  It has been so nice to have found such nice friends!
Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Oh, Chicago!  What a complete and utter treat!  It always seems so luxurious and so over the top to plan a trip right after Christmas.  But, every time we do it, we never regret it.  It is so wonderful to have something to look forward to after the holidays and so wonderful to transition into the slower months of the year.  This year we booked a room at the Waldorf Astoria for three nights.  We booked back in August for a good rate.  We were excited to go!
The hotel was beautiful!
The bathroom was a treat for me!  Our bathrooms at home are small, much, much smaller than our last house and I have to say...I'm not crazy about a small bathroom.  Especially since I share mine with the kids.  This bathroom was bigger than Georgie's bedroom.  The tub was so deep.   Look at these two!
This is what they were watching...t.v. in the bathroom mirror.  :)  
The morning after we arrived Magnolia and I went to American Girl for brunch.  The original plan was for the four of us to go.  The day prior had me change my mind about that (George was a little sick and in the worst mood we have ever seen him have)!  I'm so glad it was just the two of us, we had so much fun together and it doesn't seem like we do enough of these mother-daughter things.
I forgot Magnolia's hat in the room so I let her stay in the lobby while I ran back up to get it.  The concierge kept his eye on her and by the time I got back she was chatting up all kinds of people telling them all about everything.  :)  That's just so charming, so sweet, and so outgoing!
What fun!
It was snowing outside making it so pretty and festive inside.
There was a little box of conversation starters on the table and Magnolia wanted to do all of them.  I had so much fun hearing her answers.  One of them asked if she ever ran away from home and she told me she did once, to run away with horses.  :)  Another one asked who her favorite singer was.  We don't listen to much pop music so I didn't think she would know how to answer that.  I laughed when she said Barry Gibb and then confessed that she has a little crush on him!  :)
Meanwhile the two Georges went to the Original Pancake House for breakfast where Georgie had his first pig in a blanket which were a huge hit for him and we heard about them all day long.  Then they went to the Lego Store to sit and build until Magnolia and I walked over to meet them.
I love walking the streets of Chicago.  I love seeing window displays.  This one was so simple but lso cool.  I'm filing this one away for next year...
I also loved the gold wreaths on the Park Hyatt.

I made reservations for Frontera Grill about two months prior to our visit.  In the past we've been for brunch but this time we braved it for dinner.  Not sure we'd do a repeat as Georgie wasn't the best dinner guest.  At one point he threw a ball across the restaurant landing half way into the kitchen. Oh my.   Things got better when the food came.  They had soup and quesadillas which were delicious but when my duck and George's lamb dishes arrived, that's what they really ate, and ate, and ate.  They were SO hungry and I was so impressed by their sophisticated palettes.  It was George and I who scraped up their soup and quesadillas while they finished our entrees.  :)
Magnolia and I must have played twenty five rounds of tic-tac-toe waiting for food.
Since the Pancake House was such a hit the day before, we all went the next morning.  The wait staff remembered George and he just loved it there.
Pigs in a blanket and balloons when you leave...what could be better?
My usual snack destination is Garretts Popcorn (which I did go to twice) but I think I found another favorite... Sprinkles.  Such a cute little cupcake shop.  It was near the hotel so we went a few times!  Yum!
After some shopping we stopped in Ghiradelli's for a hot chocolate.
We went to Lincoln Zoo which the concierge warned us would be crazy but it wasn't, we found parking very easily and walked right in.  It was great, probably the highlight of our trip!  Seeing the wolves was our favorite.

After the zoo we had lunch at R.J.Grunts which was fun.  I did not know they were home to the first salad bar!  We had burgers and nachos.  :)
On our last day we visited the Nature Museum.
Here we saw a turtle feeding, this life size polar bear, and all different kinds of scat (pretend) which really amused Georgie.
There was a cute little butterfly house...
which for some reason, seemed to scare Magnolia.  Love how she looks to her little brother to protect her.
It was a fabulous trip.  There wasn't any pressure to do much.  Our days were lazy and relaxing.  We spent a lot of time hanging out in the hotel room, swimming in the pool, doing a little shopping, walking everywhere we wanted to go, and even having dinner in the room in front of the fire watching a movie together.  It was as perfect as it could get.
I don't want to forget our first day in Chicago which wasn't so perfect.  It consisted of the Museum of Science and Industry (which was a bomb to us) and the highly anticipated visit to Chicago's Chinatown.  Magnolia was SO excited to see Chinatown and see all of the Chinese people.   I heard her thinking aloud to herself about a week prior to the trip that she doubted there would be any Chinese people in Chicago.  I told her there would be and she'd see even more in Chinatown.  Like I said, George was not feeling well and his unbelievably horrible mood put quite a damper on the day.  We managed to squeeze in a quick lunch and I snapped this photo of Magnolia drinking hot tea.  We also went into one shop in which she picked out a pair of Chinese mary janes which she loves.   Thankfully Chicago is in our backyard.  We'll be back soon for a better visit of Chinatown  :)

We woke Christmas Eve ready and excited!!!  The previous week I had taken each kiddo out separately to pick out a gift for one another.  Then we came home, wrapped them, and put them under the tree.  This was so exciting for both of them.  They couldn't wait to give each other what they picked out.  We decided to let them exchange Christmas Eve morning (after George decided to play and build with the other gifts that were already under the tree...look to the left of the photograph below).

They loved their gifts and this was a great idea as playing with a new toy gave us time to get things ready for Christmas Eve and my parent's house.
We went to a lovely service near my parent's and sister's house.  Magnolia and George really loved it.  It was a childrens service and they got to sing, be blessed, and hold candles in the dark church while singing Silent Night.  I think this was pretty magical for them.  :) Then we went to my parent's house with my visiting sister and her three girls, and some friends of my parents.  My mom made the same seafood dish she has made since I can remember and we had a tray of wonderful cookies and candies.  Just as we were finishing dinner we heard the jingle of the elves outside leaving a bag full of new Christmas pajamas for everyone!  Here are the kiddos handing them out and ripping them open.

 Matching pajamas for these two!  They put them out and barely stayed awake for the ride home. Thank goodness for the Dreamlites Nana and Papa gave them, they lit up our car in many beautiful colors and kept them awake long enough to rush home to set out cookies and milk for Santa (and eight carrots for the reindeer!).  We read Twas the Night Before Christmas and into bed they went closing their eyes as soon as their heads hit the pillow.
After we woke up we found filled stockings at the foot of our beds and opened them while having a little juice, and then we made our way downstairs to discover this!  Santa came!  This is what he brought for George!
 This is what he brought for Magnolia!
 And this is what we found under our tree!
 Magnolia sees it all first!
 She sees her pony peering out from the chair where I am standing to take this photo.
 George finds his things and gives his Spiderman punching bag a big hug!
 She loves her new Pinto.
 Right there and then she names it "Pint." 
 American Girl Bitty Twins!  One that looks like Magnolia and one that looks like George!
 And bunk beds for the twins that Mr. Claus made and Mrs. Claus sewed the bedding.
 George's favorite gift by far is his punching bag.  Too bad it never even made it through the day.

 At least there was a drum to bang on...

 Then Magnolia and George discover a gift hiding under a blanket.  They are horse jumps that George made for Magnolia!
 She tries them immediately.  If you don't know Magnolia, you must know that she has a real talent for running on all fours like a horse and jumping these hurdles are no exception to her talent...she does it with the same grace and beautiful form of any horse.  :)

 It was a fun, fun morning.  A roaring fire, lots of coffee, music, playing, lounging in pajamas, and a late breakfast of all sorts of goodies.  I just love this part of the day...

 George opens a gift I made for him.  A superhero cape with a "G" on it, a matching eye mask, and a sword.  The sword has been a well loved gift even though it is stuffed cloth.  It has already come apart with some wicked swings he's performed with it.

The rest of the day we prepared for our Christmas dinner.  My parents and two sisters and their families came for dinner.  The only photographs I took were of us all sitting down to dinner when they all asked me to stop taking photographs so I know they would not appreciate if I posted them.  It was SO comical though, I'm glad I have photographs to remember.  Our dining room is very small but for some reason I was insistent that we all sit together.  SO, I fit all fifteen of us around our table.   While it looked pretty before we all sat down, it was the tightest squeeze when we did.  We were shoulder to shoulder and when someone finally said something about it, we erupted in laughter and jokes.  To say it was an intimate dinner is an understatement.  :)

In retrospect, however, I think it made for the perfect Christmas closeness and laughter.

I hope all of  yours was as merry and bright!