We had a wonderfully busy and full holiday season! Besides having a baby shower and birthday party during December, we made our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm to cut down our own tree, welcomed my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and baby Donovan who were visiting from Vermont, made our second trip to the Polar Express, went to the Oregon Zoo to see the zoo lights and of course had Christmas celebrations with both of our families and our good friends.
We usually cut down our tree the first weekend after Thanksgiving, but with the baby shower this year, I didn't want a big tree in the middle of the room all the guests would be congregating in. So, we put it off until the next weekend. We had a big football game (the Civil War which is the two rival state colleges duking it out) on Saturday, but decided to go get our tree in the morning. The kids were so excited and it was a gorgeous (albeit a little cold) day for tree cutting. After wandering around for awhile, we found the perfect tree.
Z 'helping' Colin with the tree
The kids striking a pose on the tree farm ;o)
After the dust had settled from two parties in two weeks (someone lock me up if I consider doing that in the middle of the Christmas season again!), we excitedly awaited the arrival of my sister-in-law Ceara and her son, Donovan. I'm sure you remember me talking about them before... Donovan was born in March last year, and unfortunately we couldn't make it up to see the new family. We were thrilled to find out they would be coming up for Christmas! We couldn't wait to meet our new little nephew and see Ceara and her husband, Grant (who came up later) again. And, the kids hadn't seen Auntie Ceara since right after Avalee was born, almost two years! I was so worried Donovan about Donovan not being familiar with us, and not wanting to get too close. ;o) But, he came right over with a big ol' grin! In fact, the whole time they were here, he kept wanting me to hold him, pick him up or just play with him. Yay...he loves his Aunt Peggy! And, all the kids got along so well. Avalee just loved him, and I think thought we got her her own little doll...hehe. Donovan loved Z, as well, always trying to get his attention or show off for him. It was wonderful seeing them all play together, and made me wish that we all lived closer. During the time they were here, we all made a trip to Portland (my mother-in-law and father-in-law too) to ride the OHSU tram and check out the zoo lights. It was quite the adventure to ride the tram (a shuttle to the bus station, bus to OHSU then finally the tram) but a lot of fin too. After that, we headed to the zoo to check out the famed zoo lights. I've lived in Oregon my entire life, and have never seen them (though I've always wanted to!) so was pretty excited. We arrived just before dark, and encountered a small line to get in. The lights were gorgeous and the kids had so much fun! As we were leaving, we saw a HUGE line snaking all the way down the hill from the zoo! Apparently, everyone else got there right at dusk and was stuck in the big line. Thank goodness we made it there early...whew! After that, it was off to a delicious dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant in Tualitin. After such a long day, both kids fell asleep on the way home.
My adorable nephew!
The kids (and Colin) getting to know each other!
Me with a couple of my favorite cuties; Avalee & Donovan!
We were also thrilled to make our second annual trip to Hood River to ride the Polar Express. We did this last year, and Z had so much fun. I was looking forward to this year, because I knew Avalee would really get into it too. We were a little nervous on our drive up, because it started snowing pretty heavily, and we were worried (without chains) we might not make it! Well, luckily we did and after checking in, even decided to take advantage of the snow; we found an empty schoolyard and had an impromptu snowball fight with the kids. Z and Grandma even built a little snowman. We decided to grab a bite to eat before our train ride, and it started snowing pretty heavily again. When we came back out after eating, there was about another inch of snow on the ground! Colin safely navigated us to the train station (about 5 miles from where we were) but it was slow going, and we made it just in time to board. The kids were very excited about going to the North Pole, and Avalee kept saying, “A train? A train!” After being served hot cocoa, cookies and signing some Christmas carols, we stopped in the north Pole so Santa could come aboard. The looks on the kids faces as they saw Santa waving to them from his house, then coming aboard the train was just priceless! Z was totally prepared for Santa, even knew what he was going to ask him for Christmas. I tried preparing Avalee for Santa (whom she had only briefly seen earlier in the month at the mall, and was not so impressed with) even asking if she knew what she was going to ask Santa for. Her response? “Books!” Yay, for my literary kiddos! She even told me, “Mama, I wuuuv Santa!” However, when Santa stopped by for a visit, Avalee had a change of heart. Santa still gave her a bell, and as he walked away, she says whispers, “I wuuv you, Santa!” Haha! After our visit with Santa, it was more carols then back to the train station. And, then for us, a long drive back home...but with some pretty happy kids!
All aboard & ready for an adventure!
Z checking out Santa just outside
Santa had just boarded & Avalee was pretty excited!
Christmas morning brought lots of fun surprises for everyone (new bikes for both kids!)! We always have Christmas morning just for our family to be together and open gifts. Wouldn't you know it, but this morning Z wasn't feeling well. When the kids came downstairs, Avalee went right to her bike and Z just went to the couch and lied down. After several minutes, he asked, “Is this my bike?” Poor boy! He was kind of out of it most of the morning, and ended up with a pile of presents in front of him, that had backed up! Of course, he was feeling well enough to present the first Christmas gift from him to Avalee; he had made her some homemade crayons and a coloring book. He was SO proud of his gift and couldn't wait to share it with her. It was extraordinarily sweet! And, after a dose of Tylenol, he started feeling much better and got into unwrapping all of his gifts. Of course, Avalee had to give him the gift she got him, which was a sweatshirt she found at Target and declared, "I wuuv it! Want it for Z! Buy it for Z! I wuuuuv it! Pay it, Mommy, ok?" So, like Z, she was pretty excited to give him her gift. I just love that both kids really got into the giving so well!
Z helping Avalee with her gift from him
He was SO excited to give her the crayons he made!
Z just gave me a pair of earrings (that match the necklace he game me for my birthday)
Later in the morning, my parents and sister came over to exchange gifts. After that, we all headed to breakfast, which a been a tradition with my family since I was a baby.
After breakfast, it was back home to load up some more gifts and head to my MILs. We spent sometime with everyone, exchanging gifts and having dinner before Ceara, Grant and Donovan had to leave on the red eye back home.
The next day we had our best friends, Liz, Brendan and their daughter Madi over (we have a tradition that they come over for 'Christmas' and we go to their house for New Years Eve). We had our usual make-your-own pizzas then hung out and opened presents. It was a lot of fun as usual, especially watching the kids together. Madi and Avalee are at such a fun age now, and they were playing together, tickling each other and just giggling all night. Very cute!
So, that was our Christmas season. We were kept busy all month, but we wouldn't have had it any other way!