Monday, January 9, 2017

My Little Three-Year-Old

Three years ago, our little red-haired baby Eric was born.  Last night we watched our home videos of when he was a newborn, and then an older baby and toddler. 
 
 
And today we celebrated!

 
For months Eric has been asking for a fish . . . and I told him he could have one when he turned 3. 
 
He got the idea from a Franklin book, where Franklin the turtle begs and begs for a pet.  Finally, his parents think he is ready to have one and tell him he can get a puppy.  Franklin, though, has a different pet in mind.  He chooses to get a fish, because he likes the calm, peaceful feeling he gets when he watches a fish swim around in its bowl.
 
Eric told me he wanted a fish for the same reason :) 
 
We decided a Betta fish would be our best option--and last week took Eric to get a small aquarium.  Janae and Alaina got him the decorations inside as their birthday gifts.
 
And today we got Eric a fish!
 
 
 
He'd already chosen its name (Nemo) before we even went to the pet store.
 
 
 
And Eric does seem pretty happy to watch him swim around and around.
 
 
Eric wanted to have a Paw Patrol theme for his party, so we picked a cake that seemed pretty easy to make.  It was actually completely foolproof, and turned out very much like the picture I was copying!

 
 

 
Eric also loves pizza--and would eat it every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner if he could--so we made mini pizzas.  Those little crusts took a bit longer than we thought they would to make, but they were great for the party.
 
 
And no birthday would be complete without a few cousins to join in the fun :)  Eric was SO happy to have Auntie Tina and her family come over (with a few more Paw Patrol toys!),
 
 
as well as Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandpa also brought Eric something he'd been asking for--a big fire truck to play with.
  
 
By 7:00 or so, Eric was falling asleep beside Grandma on the couch, but when I changed him into his PJ's he got a second wind and asked if he could play with his fire truck a bit longer :) 
 
Now he is asleep, and I have a few minutes to think about what a blessing it has been to have this little boy.  He has brought so much happiness to our family, and I really am grateful for every moment I have with him.  I am so glad we could celebrate him today!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Happy and Snowy New Year

While the lead-up to Christmas is my favorite time of year, my least favorite holiday is New Year's Eve.  I am not a night person AT ALL and don't like all the pressure to plan an entire night of fun . . . and then stay up to execute it.  Also, it's kind of a "back to real life" time, where we give up all the festivities of Christmas for the cold and miserable reality of JANUARY. 
 
Of course, now that we have Eric, I have something to look forward to in January :)  But New Year's is still not my favorite.
 
December 31, though, we did one of the activities we hadn't been able to fit in yet leading up to Christmas: a visit to Fort Langley. 
 
Janae and Alaina love dressing up in old-fashioned clothes, so they took this opportunity to get into character and see what Christmas would have been like a hundred years ago or so.
 
 
We got to taste (and smell!) chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

 
We also tasted the "heritage hot chocolate," which was thick, bitter, and laced with chili powder (in other words . . . disgusting!).
 
We saw a fur trader's wedding, where Alaina and Janae volunteered to be guests, offering gifts like cranberries, buffalo hide, and wool blankets.
 
Then the kids just played and explored--practicing calligraphy, dressing up, doing a scavenger hunt, and just having fun.
 

 
 
We even got a family picture!
 
 
Then we came home and watched the snow fall, and fall, and fall--all night! 
 
I have to confess that I actually went to bed at 10:00 when Eric fell asleep, but in the morning we woke up to this:
 

 
And so far, it's been a pretty happy and snowy new year.

Christmas Day

We had some fun moments this Christmas, watching the kids open their presents that we'd been planning and anticipating for so long.
 
Christmas Eve. we continued our tradition of letting the kids open their presents from each other.
 

 
and then from Grandma and Grandpa.

 
My mom had made Janae and Alaina some Christmas dresses and other clothes for their dolls--and Janae's reaction was one of complete JOY. 
 
We told everyone that in the morning they had to stay downstairs until at least 7 a.m., so at 7:00 on the dot I heard some little girls walking up the stairs, and soon saw them at the foot of my bed.
 
We all got up, and the opening began! 

Finally . . . "Up-and-down Rubble"

Ben had been without a video game console for quite some time.  While I thought it was kind of boring to re-buy an updated version of something we'd already had, Ben thought it was a great gift.

Each of the kids with his or her favorite present.

Janae had asked for a wheelchair for her doll, and also a violin, and Alaina had wanted crutches.  So . . . even though they look unfortunate, they were actually very happy to have their medical equipment.


 


 
It was a nice morning with everyone together, discovering what Santa had brought.

 
At 10:00 we went to church, and then we went to visit my mom and dad before driving out to Jason's mom's for Christmas dinner.
 
The next day we had Christmas with my family at Auntie Tina's house.  It was a wonderful time with ALL of the family together.
 
Definitely a Merry Christmas for us!

Also Before Christmas--The Anniversary Curse Lives On . . . In a Good Way

 
A few years ago I wrote about a phenomenon that I called our "anniversary curse"--it seems something always happens on Jason and my anniversary to "ruin" our day--or at least cast some type of shadow over it.
 
This year it made for a good story. . . .
 
Jason had told me a few times that he'd got something really special for me as an anniversary gift.  When December 19 came, he went to get the present from its hiding place . . . and it was GONE, except for an empty bag from the store where he'd bought the gift.
 
Since the present had been hidden under our bed for almost a month, he searched underneath and all around--pulling out long-forgotten items that were covered with dust, but not finding the gift.
 
Next, Jason questioned each of the kids, thinking maybe one of them had found the gift and played with it--but nobody had any information to share.  Jason even asked me if I had come across anything that might look like a present, but I had not.
 
Finally, Jason told me the gift was a keepsake ornament from Hallmark that I'd told him I had really liked.  I started looking again through our room, but we couldn't find it.  I suggested that Jason call Hallmark to see if it had dropped out of the bag while he was at the mall, and someone had returned it. 
 
Jason eventually tried this, but nothing had turned up.
 
Then--it had been a couple of hours of searching by this point--he called back to see if the store had any of the ornaments left, and the person working said there was ONE.  Jason put it on hold, then went to buy it for the second time.
 
He came home with the ornament, and--of course--I really loved it.  It had a little battery to install, though, and I asked Jason where he kept his little screw drivers. 
 
He opened his drawer and lifted up some socks to get to the tools that he kept at the back . . . and there was the original ornament he had bought.
 
The ladies at Hallmark had a good laugh at his expense when he took the second ornament back--probably less than half an hour after he'd bought it (one of them had said he'd definitely find the first one as soon as he'd bought the second).
 
And I think it all turned out better than if nothing unusual had happened!
 
 
There's nothing like having a great story to tell--and I'm sure this one will come up year after year when we take out the ornament to hang on our tree :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Before Christmas

Before Christmas is--by far--my favorite time of the year.  And this year, we had the most Christmassy lead-up to December 25 we've had in a long time!
 
There were lots of visits with Santa,
 
At our mall
 
At a mall halfway between our house and Auntie Anita's
At Burnaby Village
Eric wanted to be sure Santa knew what he wanted for Christmas, and I think by the time the big day came he was satisfied that he'd get his "up-and-down Rubble" (which--as I had to explain to Santa each time--was a version of the Paw Patrol character "Rubble" that had a crane that could actually move "up and down").
 
We also had lots of music concerts,
 
 
Janae's fourth time playing at a piano Christmas recital ("Deck the Halls" this year),
 
 
and Alaina's second year for this (she played "Jingle Bells").
 
Ben played "Go Tell It On the Mountain" at his recital.
 
Janae also played at her first violin concert--"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," or--as her teacher would say--one of her "Twinkles" :)
 
 
We had a school Christmas concert with lots of singing ("Little Snowflake" and "Blitzen's Boogie" were some of Alaina's, and Janae sang "Hot Chocolate" with her class).
 
And--for the first time in many years--we also had lots of snow that wasn't going anywhere. 
 
We're talking enough snow to pull our kids down the road on a sled,
 
 
slide down the hill at the park and school,
 
 
build a snow mouse,
 
 
or even a real snow MAN.
 
 
And enough snow to take beautiful pictures in fancy dresses after church,
 
 
or perform an impromptu violin concert for the neighbors and make it look good.
 
 
We also had lots of time together as a family, since our kids finished school a whole week before Christmas, and Jason couldn't do any landscaping with all that snow around.
 
 
 
A few days before Christmas we went to Burnaby Village for a Heritage Christmas. 
 
 
We all rode the carousel this time,
 
 
 
and stayed late enough to see some of the beautiful Christmas lights. 

 
 
 


I also felt very Christmassy working late at night on a special gift for my girls' dolls.  Alaina had asked Santa to bring her some books for her American Girl doll, so--with the help of some very crafty people who put patterns online--I was able to make these little doll-sized books while my girls were sleeping. 

 

 
On Christmas Eve., Eric was dressed up like Santa, filling up a bag with toys, and putting things beside each person's bed.  It reminded me so much of when Ben was little and loved to pretend to be Santa.
 

 
 

 
Then finally even HE was asleep,
 

 
and not a creature was stirring . . . except maybe this one :)