Everybody was Jumpin’, Jumpin’

Today was a good day. I started it off by baking cookies and Big L jumped right in to help, mixing things for me.

Meanwhile, Aaron was picking up the last pieces needed for our early Christmas surprise… the trampoline. We gave the kids the choice to wait until Christmas or have it a bit early, an option which seemed best to me with our slightly warmer temps today and this week off from school.

The kids could barely wait to get on it!
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She is so good with him. At bedtime, he insisted that she take him up to bed.
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This one loves laying on the trampoline and yelling at everyone around her for jumping.
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“I want to sit on lap”.
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It was a lot of fun. The boys did NOT understand why they had to come in, even though it was totally dark out and getting rather cold. I know they’re looking forward to more jumping tomorrow!

Hello Again

Big L is back. Aaron had to fly down to Texas to pick her up and they were scheduled to get back late, after midnight. I told the kids that they could stay up to see them if they’d take a nap in the afternoon, which they agreed to.

I passed out Christmas pajamas and we had a movie marathon. However, their flight ended up being delayed even more and not everyone stayed up until their arrival.
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He was so excited to see her, too. When he seemed to getting tired, I asked him if he was ready for bed. He’s the kind of kid who will often admit he’s tired and say he’s ready, but last night he said “I want to see [L]. I want to see [L]. I want to see [L].”

Only Reed and Lena made it. They quickly hugged her, gave her a present (pajamas) and headed to bed themselves.
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I put Big L to bed pretty fast too, as it was super late.

So, this morning, we all slept in a bit, Aaron especially. But once they were finally up, Gus was SO excited. “[L] is here!!!” and he ran in and gave her a very much returned hug. He then proceeded to show her around the house. Telling her things like “Dats Christmas tree. Dats where Christmas grows.”

We had a pretty laid back day at home. Decorating our Christmas tree. Lots of chilling on the couch and Big L tickling Gus’s feet.
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He really adores her.

She’s doing pretty well. She’s jumped right back in with the kids, Gus especially. She hasn’t been shy with me, but definitely more reserved. But, it’s barely been a day, so I think that’s still to be expected.

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That was our first day together again. :)

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

My blog posts are rarely on the same day that they actually happened. As I write this post, we are waiting for Big L to arrive. I know that many of you are eager to hear about that and I promise to blog about it as soon as I can.

Frozen-mania struck our house HARD. But, here’s the thing, I love Frozen. I think it’s such a great story, about a girl who loves her sister and never gives up on her. Yeah, there’s a lot more to the story than that, but that’s the best part. Anna is the hero, the one who really believes in her sister and saves everyone.

When I gave Lena her Anna costume, I really wanted to do this…

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Was she cold? A bit, but she wouldn’t admit it. She was having way too much fun!
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We had such a good time. She is a blast to photograph, because even though I sometimes need to give her a tiny direction, she always owns it and comes up with some great ideas herself.
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Me: Can you give me your best sad face?
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Okay, so that needs a bit of work. But, like I said, we were having a blast!

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Running off to find her sister…
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We had such much fun. I really want to do this more often.

Lena’s 7th Birthday

Lena turned 7. That was 10 days ago, but I’m definitely a bit behind on my posting… again.

She chose to keep it simple with a friend over to play and then going out on a special daddy date to Legoland on the weekend.
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I, on the other hand, lost my mind. Instead of last years storebought cupcakes to send to school, I made ice cream cone cake pops. You break apart a cake, mix in some icing, room into balls, put in the freezer, then cover with candy melts or melted chocolate and top with sprinkles and a red M&M. Yes, I lost my mind.
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I blame my lapse in sanity on Pinterest, but aren’t they just so cute?? The “scoop” on the little ones are only a tablespoon, and on the big ones, it’s about the size of a regular cupcake.

She also had a cake. That, on the other hand, was not my finest decorating effort. But, Aaron pointed out to me that the L made of silver sprinkles also doubled as a 7. At least there’s that.
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Of course, SHE didn’t care that it was not the most gorgeous cake.
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On Facebook, on her birthday, I shared this, ” ‘I love the whole world,’ she told me recently. And I believe she really does. Happy birthday to one of the kindest, most compassionate and all around beautiful people I know!”

It’s true. She really is just so loving and thoughtful to those around her. We always open presents after dinner and cake, but that was a bit too long for her on her birthday, so she wrote me a note as I made dinner. “Are we going to open presents or not?” I asked if she’d like to open her toy gift early, so she’d get some more time to play with it while I made dinner. She was quite excited. Just as she was getting ready to open it, Gus dropped his cup on the floor and screamed in frustration. Instead of ripping open her gift, she took the time to jump off her chair, get his cup and give it back to him. With a smile on her face.

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On the left: her Elsa birthday shirt, pretty much the cutest thing ever. On the right, her Anna costume. The birthday shirt and Anna dress are from the Crazy Kukla Boutique. Kim is a fellow adoptive mom who has a kiddo from Russia. And, she makes the most adorable items. My mom made the cape and did a fantastic job. And, Lena needed new winter boots, so I picked out ones that looked like something Anna would wear.

She is growing up to be quite a thoughtful and caring young lady. I asked her recently what she wants to be when she grows up and her answer, for as long as I can remember has been the same, “a mommy”. Here’s the thing: she has great mom skills, too. We were at a doctor’s appointment for Reed recently where I had to bring all 3 kids. Gus really doesn’t like it when I will not pay attention to him, so I handed him a car. But, after switching rooms, I realized he no longer had it. I asked him, “where’s your car, Gus?” with just a bit of frustration. “I dunno,” he shrugged. Barely looking up from her book, Lena said “I put it in your purse.”

I love this girl. I know I’m supposed to be the mom, but she’s regularly an example of patience and kindness and determination to me. Happy 7th birthday, Lena.

Gus’s School Program

Gus had his first school program last week. It was the last day of his school for the fall.
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I love his teachers. They always seem so engaged with the kids. They introduced everyone with the song “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?”
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One of the few songs he participated in.
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He did participate in his skit. His teachers said for his first program, he did pretty well. They acted out “Are you my mommy?” And he was the “snort” truck who puts the baby bird back in her nest.
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And there was a little potluck party afterwards where he showed me his moustache.
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Not sure where my baby went!

Holiday Lights Hayride

I’ve gotten lots of comments on just how many holiday related events we’ve been up to this year. This is not my favorite time of year. In summer, the opportunities are endless and I like to be outside any time of day. But in winter, I wouldn’t leave my house if I didn’t have to.  So, I’ve been seeking out events that are both fun and inexpensive to get us out. This is one of those.

A town near us has a holiday lights hayride. A truck pulls a hay wagon around town to see all of the Christmas lights. The truck plays Christmas music and there’s even a stop for hot chocolate. At $2/person, this event is a total “steal”. Most places, you could barely get the hot chocolate for $2.

Gus LOVES hayrides. No matter the season, or occasion, he just loves them. He was over the moon about this, even before we started moving or the Christmas music started playing.
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We went with our good friends Danae and Adrian. You probably think we do everything with them. We kind of do. Life is better with friends.
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Not sure what was going through Gus’s mind at this moment.
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Love this one of Adrian.
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Can we talk about this for a minute? When did he get big enough to drink a hot beverage on a moving vehicle with just one hand? Actually, he was covered in hot chocolate by the time we were done, but doesn’t he look so grown up here?
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I hope you’re finding fun things to do this season, too. Local friends, go on a hayride!

The Tree Hunt

I’ve always been on the side of real Christmas trees. As a child, we’d go out to a tree farm and cut down a tree. My love for real trees isn’t entirely the tree itself, but the whole experience.

At the same time, when we adopted Reed and Lena, some lovely people decorated our house for Christmas and put up an artificial tree. Now, I get why they’re so popular, too. Easy and convenient. Plus, I’ve hated the idea of buying a tree when we have this one sitting in our basement.

Enter in the “Cedar Tree Event” where you go out an chop down an invasive red cedar for a small donation. Win/win. The fact that we found someone who could use the artificial tree sitting in our basement? That’s one more win.

If this invasive species Christmas tree thing sounds familiar, that’s because we also did it two years ago.

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This year it was out at Mildale Farm, a property typically used for events like weddings. Totally gorgeous and I’d only seen it from the road before.

Pretty quickly, I can see the appeal of tree farms for those who like a real tree. This is not an easy task, finding a tree out here in nature.
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Reed and Lena kept saying “this one?” and “what about this one?”
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The thing is, we’d already had a busy day, with the Christmas parade and we stopped by the school Christmas shops for the kids to do their shopping before we came. So, some people (cough Gus cough) were already feeling a bit cranky.
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At some point, it was very clear to just pick a tree or spend out here all day.
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We picked a tree.
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Reed actually helped with the cutting this year, too. He doesn’t quite have it figured out yet, but he’s curious.

Reed also did almost all of the dragging the tree back to the spot where they drive it to the parking lot. It hurt his hands after awhile, but he didn’t want to hand it over.
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When we got back to where you tag your tree for them to drive it back, Reed did everything. It’s completely him to be able to go find a tree, chop it down and drag it back almost entirely himself by age 7, but it still surprises me to see him actually do it.
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So, after we dropped off our tree, there was this on our walk back to the car. Cider, hot chocolate, cookies and a fire.
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The volunteers at this event are so hospitable. The couple serving the snacks and tending to the fire was a pleasure to talk to. And, all of the volunteers we interacted with were very friendly and welcoming.
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I just love this– chopping down a wild tree, then sitting by a fire.
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Picking an invasive wild tree does not get you the prettiest Christmas tree by any means. However, it is quite a fun experience!