This Year’s Christmas Card

We used mixbook.com  again this year to create our Christmas card.  I really enjoy the site because it allows you to customize the style, add words, etc.  Most of the other sites (like tinyprints, shutterfly, minted, etc.) don’t give you that much freedom.  We used a friend of ours who is a photographer to capture this year’s family photos as well as Sienna’s one year photos.  She was AMAZING and we loved her and how she captured our family.  More photos from her at another time.  Go check out her photography page http://www.amylaudaphotography.com. She is in the Woodstock/Kennesaw area and very reasonably priced!  You can check out our cards from the years past by going here, here and here.

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Quackenshelf, Christmas Tree Arrives, and Santa Visit

Last year, Dan’s sister Jenna sent the kids our first Elf on the Shelf.  It was a perfect age for the kids to start the tradition because Parker and Mason were just getting at the age where it would be fun.  We just opened the box, read the book, and had him hide in a different place each night leading up to Christmas.  The boys LOVED it.  Parker named him Quackenshelf (the first thing he said when we asked what his name was) and we loved seeing the boys faces light up with excitement morning as they wandered downstairs to see where he would land next.

We were excited to introduce him again this year, but wanted to have a clever entry for him.  So, before we left for Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Angie’s house, I set up a gift with a note that I made up from the elf to the kids,  while they were getting buckled into their carseats.  Since they needed new PJ’s to wear for Christmas, we thought a good gift would be for Quackenshelf to bring all three of them new Christmas PJ’s.

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The next day we headed to Kinsey Farms to buy our Christmas tree.  We’ve picked out our pumpkins and trees here the last two seasons, so we decided to continue the tradition.  Dan loves a Chinese restaurant called Rice that is on the way there, so we enjoy stopping there and eating lunch prior to getting our tree.  As you could imagine, the place was packed.  We had a great time, and even though the weather had gotten pretty cold in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, it was amazingly PERFECT weather on black Friday.  We couldn’t ask for a more gorgeous day.  It wasn’t very cold, and there was lots of sunshine and a slight breeze.  The kids had fun and we came home in time for naps and enjoyed setting up the tree that evening.

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The first week of December my Mom joined us and we had “Cookies with the Clauses” an event that we’ve gone to since Parker was a toddler, so I guess this would be our third year going.  The kids weren’t as excited about this one.  Mason was terrified of Santa.  He wasn’t too fond of him last year, but at least agreed to sit near Ms. Clause in promise of a cookie.  No, he wasn’t budging this year.  Full on tantrum, body hits the floor at Santas’ feet, and drooling and crying ensues.  Sienna was so distraught by Mason’s reaction, that it got her in a tizzy as well.  All while Parker chatted away with Santa, telling him all he wanted for Christmas.  Once we got inside, we met with some friends and did crafts.  Sienna crawled and danced a bit on the dance floor, and Mason loved doing crafts, but Parker it seemed like he too quickly wanted to go home.  I don’t know if it was because he didn’t get a nap and he was over tired, or just bored.  I was kind-of sad that he wasn’t breaking it down on the dance floor like he had in past years.  We can always try for next year.  I’m not going to start believing the fact that he may be getting too old for this event.  NOT going to believe that for a minute.  Stay young, my Parker pooh!

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Since the boys are older, this year we decided to try doing an Advent Calender.  We have a verse that we read along with a thing to do such as “watch a Christmas movie together”  or  “Have a picnic by the Christmas Tree”.  It’s been a lot of fun and the boys look forward to doing that each day too.  We’ve been busy this month, but we look forward to continuing to celebrate Jesus and enjoy family time this season!

A Chattanooga Weekend

Dan and I had so much fun in Chattanooga last month prior to Thanksgiving. We went two years ago before Sienna was born with just the boys (read about that here) and stayed a week and loved it so much we decided to come back. I think we picked the chilliest Novemeber weekend to go, but we made the best of it! We conveniently stayed right beside the Children’s Museum in a Hilton Garden Inn, and it was a great location. The weather as well having three small children hindered us from doing too many outdoor activities, but we really enjoyed going to the Children’s Museum, Enchanted Garden of lights at Rock City, and the Aquarium. We were planning to also do the Chattanooga Choo Choo, as well as Coolidge Park (and bridge) but it was just too cold. Just walking a few blocks from the hotel to the aquarium was almost unbearable with the wind gusts between the buildings.

The Museum was a lot of fun. We got up to Chattanooga just in time for lunch, and enjoyed a really yummy lunch at a great restaurant called Blue Plate, where every dish is made from scratch. Very fun atmosphere with tasty food. After lunch, we headed over to the Children’s Museum. Sienna had a morning nap in the car, and the boys are usually ok without one if they’re entertained, so we enjoyed a lot of fun and learning at the museum. They did everything from dino digs to learning about bees, to a dance party, to playing scientists and doctors. They also enjoyed some open play time in the toddler area. This was a great hands-on learning and discovering for Sienna as well as the boys!

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After the museum, we decided to relax at the hotel for a bit. The hotel had a pool and Parker was really excited about going. We didn’t bring the floatys, but how hard could it be bringing three little kids to a small indoor pool. I would keep an eye on Parker jumping to me, and Mason would play on the steps while Daddy held Sienna. Sounds like a plan, right? Wrong. Don’t try this. EVER. Parker decided not to listen when we first got there, and did a swan dive into the water, where I barely had time to take off my shoes (the only ones I brought) to jump in and save him from drowning. Mason didn’t stay on the steps and wanted to run around the pool on the wet tile, and Siena was a squirming worm in our arms. So that was a bust! We have a lot to work on in the area of swimming before Destin in May!

We called Rock City beforehand to ask about the Garden of Enchanted lights and to see if it was appropriate for the kiddos. They said it was, and that they also had a restaurant on site. They ended up not having a sit-down restaurant open, it was more like a concession stand. By the time we realized that, we had already gotten everyone out of the car, had our tickets ripped, and were inside where it was warm. We were also surprised to find out that the stroller friendly part of Rock City that we used last time we came, was closed and we had to CARRY Sienna the entire way. Not only was it tough to carry her (Dan did it, not me) but it was FREEZING COLD! The lights were absolutely beautiful. We had a great time, but it was a little nerve racking with holding the boys hands too. Some of the bridges only had stacked rocks up to your mid-calf blocking you from falling down into a cave abyss below. They had a lot of fun things for the kids. A whole tent set up for decorating cookies, crafts, visits with Santa, etc. Which is probably why they said it was kid-friendly, but it was NOT stroller friendly in the least bit. We made the best of it, and I took only a handful of photos before my camera completely died due to low battery (Mommy fail), but at least I had my iPhone too. Someone once said, the best pictures are the ones taken, so at least I had that to capture some memories. At the middle of the tour, you get to see the mountain with the beautiful view of the city. It was incredible. There were fire pits where you could warm your hands or toast marshmallows. At one point we saw a man get down on his knee and propose to a girl. It was the perfect setting for something like that. Very very pretty. It was just a bit challenging with the kids. We’re thinking this will be a new tradition for us eventually. Once the kiddos are older they (and Dan and I) will enjoy it so much more!

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The next day we decided to hit the aquarium. This was such a different experience than our first trip here two years ago. Both boys loved it so much and really took the time to enjoy the fish instead of just slapping the glass and making a run for it. Sienna did great too, and decided to take her morning nap in her stroller as we were strolling around looking at everything. Since my camera was still out of juice, only iPhone pictures were taken, but they had a great time. I think their favorite part was the butterfly exhibit, the jellyfish and the king crabs.

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The penguins were also a big hit there, too. We had lunch at a place called Big River, a local brewery. It had very good beer, and the salad I got was pretty good too. It’s worth eating at again at our next visit for sure. It was a great way to end our little weekend away before heading back home.

Thanksgiving Blessings

These past few weeks we’ve enjoyed spending time with friends and family as well as thinking about all the blessings we have. The boys have been enjoying all the crafts they bring home from school and learning about pilgrims, indians and the mayflower. The boys had a nice Thanksgiving program at school. Parker was an Indian, and Mason was a Mayflower. It was really sweet. We contributed food towards a delicious Thanksgiving feast at school as well as when we went to Aunt Angie’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner. Lots of great memories and fun with family and friends!IMG_0544

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