whoopty-doop and hickory dock

 

We never got a tree this year. It just never happened. I was very on top of presents and planning, but decorating, for me, should happen when you feel like it. There was never a particular day when we felt a wave of holiday spirit, so we skipped the whole journeying out to get a tree and then decorating it thing. Luckily, some elves got involved Christmas Eve after we were all asleep, so we woke up to a truly magical Christmas morning.

The world around me was also great at providing plenty of spirit to keep my family smiling through mid-December. This wonderful woman created gingerbread from scratch, and cut into shapes to make beautiful houses.

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Her main priority when looking for recipes? Taste! It was sooooo delicious.

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Our combined collections of sprinkles and decorating goodies was quite extensive, so our boys were really able to go to town

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Six different people, six different styles. As it should be!

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Laura told me about a crazy Christmas display at Lawless Distillery, so we went to go enjoy the lights and some crazy Christmas cocktails.

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They were not my altogether my favorite drinks, but the festivity of the place, the bartenders and the drink containers more than made up for that. Check it out!

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Our first family gathering this year was my parents’ house.

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We aren’t able to be at the greater Sikkink gathering this year, so Grandma Betty sent our gift over early.

The Zoo!

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So some of these photos are ones sent from my parents’ phones. I was not consistent, apparently, about the size I sent…so when you see a super crisp photo or a super tiny photo…that’s why.

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The next gathering was with the Petersmas in Pella.

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I loved getting to play with Bobbi’s little guy! He’s such a sweetie

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Grandpa Mel got his very own Ted. He says he loves him, but hasn’t quite developed a taste for the ears yet.

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The pool table in the basement got a lot of use. Henry loves playing and watching

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Charlie was pretty busy putting together a rover

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By this point in the evening, multiple families had had to leave due to a stomach bug. Least merry timing ever!

So the rest of us decorated cookies and hoped for the best.

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The next morning, Christmas Eve, Charlie had enough time to put together his Lego set, and then we had to hit the road. It was way too short of a visit!

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We had an easy drive back, though, and a lovely time with the greater Novak clan that night. The boys especially enjoyed their fun basement.

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Christmas morning was about as perfect as they come. The boys came downstairs repeatedly to admire the elves’ work, and would then run back up to report to the other one. Everyone was so happy, we had great music, and we all were able to just bask in the glow of the morning.

In the afternoon, we had our final two gatherings, both in the same place, the Novaks’.

Charlie probably would have snuggled in his sleeping bag all day.

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Henry can now be the caped avenger, SUPER HENRY!!!

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Derek facilitated craft time while the darn adults took way too long opening in the other room.

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Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the day debilitated by sickness.
Merry Christmas, eh?!

But now it’s over.
We’ve had full days, and I’m so grateful for them.
Now we can have some days of “nothing.” Yay!

Next week I turn 32, and I plan to be very well rested by then.

 

Keeping Cozy

‘Tis the season, eh? Well, our chimney may not allow smoke to escape from the actual fireplace, but at least we’ve got the elements of a pillow bonfire to keep up cozy! How adorable is that?

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And…egg nog. Yesss!!!

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I did a better job of bringing in my herbs this year before frost time, so we’ve got some bright green sage, parsley, oregano and thyme. Hopefully they’ll hang around til next spring. The thyme is not super happy indoors, but the other three are looking great. Especially the oregano.

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Joe brought the boys to the European Winter Market they hold at the train depot in downtown St Paul. A little jealous to not have been along, but I was busy finishing up schoolwork for my last prerequisite class. Next stop: Art Education program at the U of M, starting June 2019. Application in.

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Two weekends ago, we got to celebrate the wedding of our dear old friend, Caitlin!

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We were very classy and elegant about the whole thing

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Great friends from way back!

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It was a lovely Stillwater evening. Plenty of sillies and nacho cheese to go around.

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This past week, my book club celebrated a very special December meeting at the Alumni House (Briggs House) on the Macalester Campus. I think it’s been five years, now? Pretty crazy. I’ve gotten to have some great discussions with these folks every month, and read a lot of things I’d meant to read and/or never would have otherwise read.

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On Tuesday, Santa came to Curran’s, a restaurant just two blocks away. Grandpa Jim thought we’d all probably better go see him. Here’s a fuzzy version of the pic on our fridge.

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Henry was not interested in being in the picture, so he hid behind Charlie. He was okay with talking to him afterward, though.

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Speaking of Henry, he’s been quite busy using Charlie’s chemistry set the past few weeks. We’ve gone through a lot of vinegar, baking soda, and whatever other random powders and liquids I can think of to let him experiment with. Here’s our cocoa powder day:

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Oh, and of course,  slime

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Doesn’t his newest hat look great? Thanks, Rebecca!

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He’s been loving Geronimo Stilton books lately, so we’ve spent a lot of time in this chair together going on mouse adventures. I think this particular moment, however, followed the reading of a book about emergency vehicles…

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Today was his sing-along at school. My last Judson Preschool sing-along! Five of them, I’ve been to. I think this was the one my kid was most participatory in. Neither of our boys is particularly interested in singing songs in front of groups of people. Last year, Henry sat cross-legged on the floor and never looked up the entire time. This time, he stood front and center, did all of the actions, and even sang sometimes.

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Here they’re plugging their noses because of the stinky sock they’re singing about.

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So anyway, to quote my favorite holiday movie, Home Alone II: Lost in New York:
“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal…

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…and a Happy New Year.”

New Ages!

My kids love projects, and lately they’ve been working together on them a bit more than before. This is one of their favorite kinds:

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Making and decorating birthday cake!

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Especially when Dad’s in the background being ridiculous

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Love!

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We met a talking pumpkin spice marshmallow called Sue. She was real nice.

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Birthday boy Henry requested pizza for dinner. “But can we order it so that it comes in a box and you pick your own piece?”

Wish granted.

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Huzzah!

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???

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F I V E !

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Haaappy Biiiiirthday, deeear Heeeenry!

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He had two great phone conversations that day, too.

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On Thursday we celebrated both boys’ birthdays with the Novaks. Derek and Henry were up to some shenanigans, but they were moving too fast for me to capture more than this blurriness.

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5 & 8. AH!!!!

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Then yesterday was Joe’s birthday. To celebrate, he’s started a tradition of going for a long walk/bus adventure. This year he walked from our home in south Minneapolis to way up near the top of north Minneapolis, with varied diversions along the way. Here he is about to head out.

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After a nap, he was ready to hit St Paul  with me for the evening.

What a week! Lucky for me, I like my three guys more and more with each passing year. They just keep getting more wonderful.