Saturday, December 27, 2014

Activity Advent - Week Three

The third and final week of our activity advent was very busy. 

We ate "reindeer poop" for breakfast...really chocolate doughnuts. You should have seen June's expression of half fear, half mischievous excitement when I told her the activity that day.

We made bird feeders out of pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed. We hung them  from the trees and waited to see what would come along. 

Eventually we saw some courageous squirrels hang down and pull the string up to grab the pine cones!

June and Michael decorated ornaments:

We made lists/drawings of some of our favorite Christmas memories:


We made Christmas cookies in preparation of giving to Santa:

On Christmas Eve we were going to walk around a fancy part of town with huge homes that really go all out with lights and decorations. But as the day went on, we just sort of...weren't feeling it. We wanted to get in our Christmas jams and start a fire, which we'd have to put off if we were going to go out later. So we asked June if she minded if we watched a Christmas movie that night instead. (We might have also promised her a Santa cookie.) She didn't mind. 

One of our favorite spots to perch is on the end of the couch, which is right up near the fire with a great view:

Also this past week, but featured in other posts:

And that's it for the Activity Advent Calendar! Whew! It was certainly crazy some times...I recall being a little crazed the night we made cookies because everything was running late and it was already 7:15 and June still needed to take a shower... But at the same time, I really loved and enjoyed it. I think it put us all in the mood for the holidays, it gave us a way to count the days ahead. I loved how excited June was to learn her activity each day. I need to take down some notes about the things that worked well and the things that didn't (or rather, the things that sounded good in theory but we never really felt in the mood to do, so didn't. For example: sleeping on the ground near the Christmas tree one night. The idea paints a lovely picture, but sleep is precious and my bed is just too comfortable. Sorry, not sorry.)

So I'll be packing up the advent tree with the optimistic plan to bring it out again next year. Let me know if you did any activities this year that need to be on my list for next year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day

Our Christmas started the night before, of course. June picked out exactly three carrots for the reindeer along with the milk and cookies for Santa. (Bennett was already asleep at this point.)

The morning wonderful. It started early (6:15 or so, interestingly with both kids up at the same time. This was actually Bennett's first wake up of the night!) but that's part of the territory of Christmas with young kids, right?

We had the initial crazed excitement of seeing Santa's gift he left (a big girl bike), opening some presents, stopping for some French Toast Casserole, then round two of presents. 

My parents sent June a new princess dress, and oh, how I laughed when I saw the look on her face as she pulled it out. This thing is fancier than my wedding dress. I asked her to show me what a princess looked like and:

So regal! So regal that she tried taking it on her bike.

Bennett happily munched away on puffs and observed the madness around him.

June hordes her presents and gets pretty disturbed when Bennett makes a move for them. (She's scared he's going to drool on them, which, let's face it, is a realistic outcome.) And yet she also treats all of 'his' toys as her own. 

After Bennett's morning nap we went for a walk and for June to take her bike on a maiden voyage. She was so excited that, although we set off for the park, she didn't want to actually go to the park, she just wanted to keep going on her bike. Which meant we got to pass this awesome house:

I might have been a tad over-dressed but I had to take my own Christmas present for a new boots! (Thank you, Michael!) 

We had my family's tradition of BBQ ribs from Montgomery Inn for lunch. Heaven! Bennett got his first taste of BBQ!

We spent the evening playing with out new toys and singing along to the Les Miserables soundtrack. It was a quiet, sweet little Christmas for our little family. We were sorry not to see our families on the actual day, but we got to talk to them and will get to see them soon!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope yours was as warm and wonderful as ours!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Nutcracker

June and I went on a Mommy-Daughter date to see the Nutcracker on Sunday!

We got all dressed up and first went out to dinner downtown.

I was slightly nervous since she is still a three year-old, and I didn't know if her attention span would last for the whole performance. We got pretty good seats, which I thought would help keep her interested since she had a better view.

We also walked around the lobby before the show. We bought an ornament souvenir, checked out the decor and even saw Santa!

It went really well. June sat on my lap for a scene or two since she said she couldn't see very well from her seat. I had warned her that there was a mouse king who might be a 'bad guy,' but when the actors-dressed-as-mice came out, they didn't fit what she had pictured as a "mouse king" so she didn't agree that they were the ones I had mentioned. 

She did get a little antsy toward the end of act II. I didn't blame her and I wasn't the least bit surprised. The Nutcracker is really wonderful, but it doesn't have any words and following the story does take some attention. But she loved the costumes, loved the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy and the 'flower' ballerinas. 

There were lots of kids in the audience (and actually a ton of kids on stage, too), so it felt very family-friendly. June did a great job of not talking during the play and only whispered a few questions whenever she felt someone had been wronged on stage. 

Afterward we stopped for dessert on the way home.

By the time we got home, Bennett was asleep. Michael and June carefully put our new ornament on our Christmas tree.

Then, as Michael and I sat and talked about how the night went, June worked off her sugar high by dancing around the room pretending to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Foray into Firewood

This entire post is about buying firewood, and if that's not enticement to continue reading then I don't know what is!

We've been buying bushels of firewood at Home Depot. (They probably aren't considered bushels, but I once called them bushels and Michael said that probably wasn't the word I was looking for, so I looked up the definition of 'bushel,' of which  the informal definition sort of works with the context I was using it in, so I therefore must use the word 'bushel' for the rest of my life to show him who's boss.)

Last time we were there, Home Depot was completely out so the employee there pointed me to a local spot where I could get some. We decided to check it out on Sunday.

It was a charming place, called Pak and Save Firewood. Obviously locally owned and operated, you choose the type of wood and the amount you want and they load it up in the car for you. We actually bought more than we could bring with us (it was a better deal), but they allow you to just come and pick up the rest whenever you want. We asked if there was a time limit and they said they once had someone show up with a receipt from two years prior!

I've never been to a place like this before, so we had to ask about the different qualities of the different wood.

Surprisingly there was also this little pen of goats just hanging out. June was enraptured but we had to tell her to keep her distance from the goat with protective tape over his horns.

We ended up getting a half a cord, I think? I don't know because I was off trying to keep June's fingers safe from goats. A cord is some kind of firewood measurement, I guess. I wish they would have measured in bushels, then I would have known just how much we were getting.

It felt so Sacramento-y to be buying from this place. We haven't tried breaking it down into a cost comparison to see if it's actually a better deal than the big box stores, but the internet says it is so it must be true!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Old Sacramento Theater of Lights

We spent part of the day Saturday wondering if we should even attempt going to Old Sacramento that evening because rain had been forecasted. The rain hadn't come all day, so we decided to pack 'er up and head on out.

First we walked around the shops for a little bit. The highlight was the Christmas shop, which was gorgeous but we had to stay on top of June, who wanted to touch all the things. 

Then we went for a carriage ride! 

June has always wanted to go on one of these carriages ever since we first visited Old Sacramento, but we'd always been with Bennett in a stroller, so it didn't make sense. Since the Advent Activity was specific to go on the carriage (and go to the Theater of Lights), we purposefully took Ben in the Ergo carrier.

So we walked over and hopped in the carriage led by a horse named Sonny. (Sunny? Sunni?)

It was so cute and fun, even when we started going on the cobblestones and things got a little bumpy. We didn't know how Bennett would do, but he seemed just fine!

Then we walked over to the Theater of Lights. Short review: it was cute and fun and I'm glad we did it, but I doubt we make this one a yearly tradition.

Long review: The show takes place along K street. You definitely want to be in the middle of the street (not under the overhangs near the shops), probably halfway down the sectioned off area. We didn't really know what to expect going in, except I thought it would be like a light show, the various Christmas lights choreographed to music. Instead, there was first a talk about some of this history of Old Sacramento and some of the buildings on the street. There was then a dramatic retelling of The Night before Christmas, with actors playing Santa and a little dramatic showdown with Jack Frost. The battle between the two to make the lights 'jolly' versus 'frosty' was the best part, with the light and music changing. But I wish there had been more of that and less...boring parts? June did fine, but Bennett was pretty fidgety after a while and I think some more active light shows would have helped.

A very kindly old grandpa stood next to us and gave me a smile a couple of times, so I didn't feel bad about asking him to take a picture of us. After about the third time of showing him how to hold down the button to take a picture, I remembered why I generally don't ask grandpas to take pictures. At least we got a shot of the family! (Who really needs to see Michael's hair, anyway?)

After a long, meandering drive home, we got to enjoy a big fire in the fireplace (plus our new family stockings!), some episodes of The Newsroom and a glass of wine!

Don't worry, I'm about 85% sure the stockings can't catch on fire right there.