Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From Our Family to Yours....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lovoy Christmas Dinner

On Wednesday night, we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family at Mom and Dad's house. Mom cooked a lovely dinner, and we enjoyed spending time together.

Santa left some gift bags of goodies at Bamma and Big Pat's house for Carter and Callen, and Callen found a sucker that she kept close tabs on until after dinner when she was able to eat it!
Carter and Callen ready to open presents!
Finally, they get to rip paper! Uncle Steve and Aunt Emily gave them Hung.ry Hip.pos! {never mind that we have managed already to lose two of the marbles} Callen also received some game cards.
Carter was pretty thrilled to open his present and find a Toy Sto.ry Alien game.
Big Pat and Carter had it working and were fishing for aliens in no time! I am pretty sure that Carter has played it at least once an hour that he has been awake since!
Uncle Steve and Aunt Emily helped Callen get Hun.gry Hip.pos all set up and ready to play. Which, of course, they did.
Aunt B and Uncle Ken observed the madness - Aunt B took pictures, of course. I think they are just enjoying the "quiet" that is this Christmas, for next year, their little one will surely be in the mix as well!
We had a wonderful night and enjoyed spending time celebrating Christmas with family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Run, Run As Fast as You Can...

...You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!

Carter has been saying this for the past couple of weeks because they have been reading the book at school. Last weekend, he asked if we could make gingerbread man cookies. That seemed like a pretty good idea for an activity that would keep us busy for a while on our first day all together for the Christmas break.

So, I enlisted my assistant pastry chefs. This one had obviously been busy already since she has flour on her face.

I used this recipe from SL's Dec issue. Was pretty easy and actually pretty tasty--I am not a huge gingerbread cookie fan.

After waiting the required amount of time for the dough to refrigerate, it was time to get to cutting our gingerbread men {and women} out.

Cut gingerbread cookies waiting to be transferred to the pan.
Who can resist watching the little guys/gals cook in the oven?
As Carter called them: Naked Gingerbread Men cooling and waiting to be iced.
One of the perks of being the assistant pastry chefs is that you get to lick the beaters from the icing! I am pretty sure this was the highlight of the gingerbread man making.

Finally, the gingerbread people were iced and ready to eat and share!


And not of the farmer-had-a-dog variety. More along the lines of this...

It has been a Willis family tradition for, well, a while now {I know it pre-dates my children by about a year or two, at least}. Recently, we have had to make our own bingo cards {no blaming the card, then, right?} Aunt Stacey and Uncle David were hard at work on theirs.

All players bring prizes for the table and my FIL and Jane add a number of "signature" items. If you bingo, you pick a prize from the table.
Once everyone has had the opportunity to bingo once {this is usually when all the "big" bingo items are selected}, then we keep playing until the table looks more like this.

Our signature items this year was a drill that Nick scored when he bingoed. We managed to score quite a few good items...this was our loot after Bingo closed down.

In addition to bingo and a great brunch there were gifts for the children:

{three generations of Willis men}
there were stockings for everyone...
lots of playtime with cousins...
that even included some football in our new UA football ensemble...complete with a pose that Banks was trying to teach him to do!
We had a lovely time celebrating with Nick's family--enjoying the food, family and fun!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

School Christmas Celebrations

Carter and Callen had their Christmas celebrations at school last week. I was fortunate enough to be in town and able to attend both! They were both PJ parties, so the children were excited to get to wear their pajamas to school.

Carter opted against his Santa PJs in favor of Bu.zz Light.year. He told me that he wanted to be "cool, like Evan {who was also wearing Buzz pjs} and Sophie." I think my heart broke just a little that he is growing up so fast. I didn't think it was possible to know {or care} about being "cool" at 4. But, there are some battles not worth fighting, and having a happy child {who feels "cool" in character PJs, which I am sure will one day mortify him} seems worth leaving the Santa pjs in the drawer...but I digress...

So, on to the party. All 17 children in their class line up to go through the food line. They then sit {so amazingly} patiently at their tables until all their classmates have food, and then they dig in!

After the party food, there was a book swap {boys with boys, and girls with girls}. The teachers played music, all the children passed books to the person next to them and when the music stopped, you got the book you were holding.
Carter unwrapping his book
Yea! Go D.og Go! A new copy of one of our favorites!
After the book swap, Carter and his friends gave their parents the handmade Christmas gifts they created for us--a burlap handprint Christmas tree and a handprint-turned-snowmen. Both were very precious.
Callen's party was the next day, so she geared up for celebrating in her Santa PJs! {at least I still have one who will still wear them to school!} They also started their party with some yummy snacks. Callen ate just about every last bite of all that was on her plate. That girl has a serious sweet tooth, and yet we have to beg her to eat a normal meal.

Callen's class made handprint plates for the parents for Christmas. They were precious also and all lined up above their cubbies with their book from a friend behind. Callen was excited to open her book from Amber.
This next picture is so very Callen. Although it looks like she is dancing, she is really pointing her finger and giving instructions to her friends on where they need to go next. What a hoot! Her teachers told me that they sometimes have to ask her who is in charge in their class when she gets a little bossy. OMG! What are we in for? She. is. only. 2.

A self portrait of Mommy and Callen after the party and before we headed to get Carter.
We had fun celebrating the season with their friends and teachers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Tree Farm

Today, I took the day off to head to the Christmas Tree Farm on a field trip with Carter's class so that they could pick out their class Christmas tree. Earlier in the week, I was a tad nervous that the weather would be horrible {it had been rainy and COLD here}, but turns out that today was sunny with highs in the 50s, so it was actually a great day to go! Just a little bit of a nip in the air, but enough sun to balance it out.

Carter was pretty excited! They had gone to this same farm in October to pick pumpkins {and then we went as a family}, so he thought he was an old pro.

Everyone lined up next to the bus while we got our schedule of events.

After a bathroom break, there was some haystack climbing and swinging to pass the time until we got to see the animals and feed them corn that hadn't been harvested.
Turns out, this goat couldn't wait for us to feed him. He thought that what was happening outside the fence was far more exciting than what was behind the fence.
We even got to see two baby goats. They don't look too small here, but I couldn't get a good a picture of them standing up. Pretty cute...for goats.
We then ate lunch {at 10:30, BTW, I opted to hold out for later}, and then went on a hayride. After the hayride, the children were served apple cider {read: juice} and candy canes while they listened to a story about a boy who lives on a Christmas tree farm.
Then, it was time to pick out the tree. Their teachers told them that they had to agree as a class on which tree they wanted, cut it down themselves {with a little guidance from one of the dads}, and then carry it themselves back to have it wrapped for travel. I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, they are FOUR.

But, after stopping at one tree that most liked, but one classmate vetoed because "the top is too crazy." They did all agree on one.

Then they all took a turn sawing. Below is Carter's turn...pretty sure Mr Ray is holding the tree on the stump at this point.
They carried it by themselves all the way to check out, and then caught as it came out of the "wrapper."
The full class
It was a fun trip, and I was glad that I got to go with them. I am eager to see what their classroom looks like when they get their Christmas tree up!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

This morning we went to the V.CC after Sunday School for the annual Santa Brunch. These two couldn't have been more excited about talking with Santa about what they want for Christmas. Callen wasn't too excited about sitting on his lap. She stood next to Carter, holding his hand and told Santa what she wanted.

Here is a picture {courtesy of my phone} from this morning.

This one was from last year's Santa brunch {with my good camera}.
It always amazes me how fast they change at this age! I am looking forward to all the fun and excitement of sharing the joy of Christmas with our children.