Kate, Lexi, William

Summer Dreams

Tonight was one of those nights that will be impressed into my memory forever. I would call it a top 10 weather day. It was sunny and about 80 degrees with no humidity or wind. It was perfect. Daddy grilled while you three kiddos rode bikes up and down the sidewalk and played on the swing set. There were lots of squeals and giggles and almost no arguing, whining or tattling.

Lexi optimistically suggested going to the Ice Cream Factory for dessert and requested we ride bikes. Initially, the plan was to have William ride in the trailer with Kate, but he insisted on riding his green bike. We gave it a go, but figured he would get tired and need to ride in the trailer and throw his bike on it.

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Oats, you rocked it. Your little legs were petaling a million times a minute but you rode all the way there AND back!

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You each enjoyed your ice cream and even switched it up from the usual:

  • Lexi: Birthday Cake
  • William: Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Kate: Watermelon Sherbet

So grateful for this weather, these memories and most importantly these sweet peeps that make us a family

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Love,

Mama

family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2019 Florida Vacation–Day 2 Animal Kingdom

Today started bright and early for all of us. Daddy and I woke up around 5:30 am to get ready, and pack the car before we woke you kiddos up around 6. Daddy brought all of our stuff to the car, we quickly got changed and headed down to get in the bus line around 6:30 am. The first bus was supposed to start to pick up people around 7, but it arrived around 6:45 and we arrived to Animal Kingdom around 7.

While waiting in line for the part to open (@8), we learned what we are doing is called gate crashing :). Around 7:30, they opened the gates and people RAN in a mad dash for Flight of Passage. Never have I seen so many adults running towards something that wasn’t an organized race. If you would have been watching from a drone, you would have thought they put a million dollars out and people were racing to get to it first. We got to the ride (in a much slower but still walking in a fast manner) and weaved our way through the line. Daddy, Lexi, Papa and Mama went on the ride while Grammy hung back with William and Kate. World of Avatar (where the ride is located) is AMAZING! There are beautiful plants everywhere, huge unexplainable boulders that appear to be floating in the air. Waterfalls all over the place.

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I wish we weren’t rushing to get on the ride so we could have observed it more. The ride itself was pretty cool. You were strapped into something to made it feel like you were riding a horse-like-creature. You put on glasses and watched a screen as you dove through forests and jungles and saw whales jumping before your eyes. They created a full sensory experience changing the sents as you went throughout the ride, sprayed water in your face or felt the mist and humidity of the jungle. Lexi was pretty nervous throughout the ride and screamed a couple times but I was proud of her for giving it a try.

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Following this ride, we high-tailed it up to the Kilimanjaro Safari to see the animals while they were still active. We saw lots of giraffes, white rhinos, elephants, gazelles, hippos, cheetas, crocodiles, antelope, kudo, ankole-watusi and much more. Highlight of this was having a giraffe pass our truck about 6 feet away.

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Once this was over, it was about 9:00, when the park opened to the public and became a little busier. We were all pretty hungry as we hadn’t eaten any breakfast. Unfortunately, that was the same thing on everyone else’s mind as all breakfast places were packed. We explored Gorilla Falls and saw lots of birds, fish and gorillas and went to find food.

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On our way to find food, we passed the bug’s life showing in the Tree of Life and decied to watch this as there wasn’t a line. I forgot how cool the tree of life is and all the animals that are carved into it all the way through the roots and the base of the trunk that we walked passed on our way into the ride.

Initially, the 3D show was a big hit with William and Lexi. They thought it was very funny. Kate was half laughing/half crying the entire show. Then, the spider appeard from the ceiling and scared the daylight out of William and Kate. Both were screaming (along with every other small child). I was about to take them out of the show when it ended.

It was about 10:30 around this time. We got a quick bite to eat and saw this cool looking bird.

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Then made our way to Dino land. First, we went to meet Scrouge McDuck (a rare character sighting).

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Then William went to play in the Dino Park and Lexi went to meet Daisy Duck–which was the only character we didn’t meet in Disneyland, so she was pretty excited.

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Lexi then joined William at the park and they had so much fun exploring, climbing up all the ropes and exploring the hidden slides, while Kate slept

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We then made our way to the triceritops ride–which was also a big hit. We grabbed some lunch (ordered all of our food on the app–so convienent to not have to wait in lines!) before heading over to the Dinosaur ride. I thought this was going to be a quite leisurly ride like A Small World. I was very wrong. It was scary and frightening and never have I ever seen William so scared in his life. He was screaming like he was about to be eaten by a dinosaur. Bill pulled him into his chest so he wouldn’t see anything and hopefully not have nightmares. #MomFail

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I did redeem myself by finding Pluto upon exisiting the ride and William thought he was pretty silly.

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After getting some pictures with Pluto we wandered around a little bit before heading to the 2:30 show of Finding Nemo. The kids thought it was OK, but weren’t as excited about it as they were about Frozen in Disneyland.

After the show, I had promised the Birthday Boy an icecream treat and there was no way he was forgetting about it.

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Next, we headed over to the area of India to see some Tigers and other Indian animals. Kate feel asleep again while we walked. While exploring one of the bird zones, I said, Oats–look at that bird right there (about 3 feet away) to which he screamed like a little girl and made me giggle a little.

We had about an hour to kill before our fastpass on the rollarcoster Mt. Everest was available and the line to meet Mickey and Minnie wasn’t too long. To our advantage–we were able to somehow use a fastpass and get to the front of the line. Lexi and William were pretty excited to meet Mickey and Minnie together and in their jungle attire.

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After that, we headed over to redeem our fastpasses for Everest. Originally, I told Lexi that I thought this was too scary for her but she was insistant upon going. It was one of the craziest rollar coasters I have ever been on. (no spoiler alerts here). While going down one of the big drops, I the force of gravity had gotten Lexi and sucked her to the outside of her seat. I pulled her back in but I think that was a little too much for her. She said she liked it and it was fun, but didn’t want to go again. So Daddy and I used the rider switches to go one more time.

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By this time, it was around 5:30ish and everyone was spent. We made a quick pit-stop in the store to look at souviners before heading to the bus.

Upon our arrival back to the hotel, we packed up the cars and began our 6.5 hour drive back to PCB. In hindsight, we should have stayed another night to enjoy the hotel a bit more, swim etc… but we all made it back to the condo by 1:30 am or so to begin our next phase of vacation.

Love,

Mama

William

William is 4

William, my sweet badger,

Sometimes, if I didn’t know better I would think you are made of pure sugar. As Grammy likes to say, you are a ball of butter. You have the softest, most beautiful skin and you love to give hugs, snuggle and are very affectionate with people you know very well. When we pick you up, you curl your legs into a little ball and just snuggle into our arms. Daddy likes to say you ‘take your landing gears up’.

Kate 3 months 11-4You also are very quiet and shy. You have always been much more mellow than Lexi and will quietly play by yourself or with Lexi, but Lexi is loud and doesn’t ever stop talking. Sometime, we don’t even know you’re there.

William toysI didn’t realize how shy you were until we were at Nikki and Trevor’s this past fall and Mitch said, that is the first time I’ve ever heard William say something. I was a bit shocked to hear that but when I thought about it, you often just nod your head to questions or Daddy and I will jump in and answer for you so–we need to stop doing that.

Then at conferences this fall, the teachers informed us that you haven’t ever talked to them. They pulled you aside to have you show them how to count and you looked at them and shook your head no. HAHA! You definitely know how to count but I just hadn’t realized how quiet you were in front of others as you definitely talk at home.

The day you begin to loose teeth, I think I may go into mourning. You have the cutest, most perfect little teeth that compliment your sparkling green eyes. You have the sweetest happy little smile, that usually involves your tongue hanging out like a little puppy.

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William tongeI wrote about your relationship with Lexi in her 6 year old post, but will mention it here too. She is your best friend. The two of you are Mickey and Pluto. You always want to be with each other, playing together and rarely do you fight or argue. You love to play with your ‘boy’ toys like transformers, dinosaurs and spiderman while she is playing with her Shopkins, LOLs or barbies. You intermingle your two types of toys into whatever scene you’re playing together. The two of your share a room and you find so much comfort in having Lexi be in your room with you. You regularly ask when she is coming home from school and are so excited to play with her when she gets back.

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You fully embrace your big brother role with Kate. You love to play with her (when Lexi isn’t around) and take care of her. You’re teaching her how to play when Lexi is at school. Kate will regularly get into and break your lego or Magnatile creations and instead of getting angry and upset, you just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘It’s Oh-tay, we can just build it again’ Let me pause here while I pick up the pieces of my heart sweet boy.

One of my favorite things about you right now is when we ask you a question that people commonly respond with, ‘Good’, you respond with ‘Nice’. Me: William, how was school today? W: Nice. Me: Oats, How was your Chipotle? W: Nice with a sweet little grin.

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At 4 years old, you are learning to write your name and can write ‘Will’ by yourself. You know the letter W but that is about it. You can almost count to 20 (you just miss 15), know all of your colors and shapes and are beginning to identify patterns. You are still working on consistently understanding the concepts of before, after and the difference between 5 minutes an 3 hours. You also replace your ‘c’ and ‘k’ sounds with ‘t’s’ and your ‘g’ sounds with ‘d’s’–so words are pronounced like ‘milt’ and ‘dood’–but you are capable of making the sounds when we ask you.

IMG_E3897You experienced so many fun things this year, many which were firsts for you:

  • First airplane ride to Florida (and first family vacation)
  • First time seeing the ocean
  • You started swimming lessons and are starting to swim short distances by yourself (10ft), can float on your back like a little seal, and flip over from back floats to front floats.
  • Spent lots of time swimming in our new pool in the backyard
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  • Learned to ride a two-wheeler bike
  • Went to the Bothwell cabin many times and spent time at a cabin with the Sampson’s
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  • Went camping to Storybook Land in South Dakota
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  • Spent several days boating on St. Croix and even went tubing
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  • In September, you started Preschool and go twice a week for 2.5 hours, which included your first time riding a bus, first field trip and your first Christmas program
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  • Your love for transform/rescue bots and dinosaurs surfaced. You continue to love spiderman and really any kind of superhero.
  • You are obsessed with the color green.
  • You love any kind of sweet there is
  • You love riding bikes, swimming, playing Legos/going to LegoLand with Daddy, building MagnaTiles creations, playing in the sandbox, being Daddy’s helper with work projects and just his little shadow and helping mommy make dinner or bake things.
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  • Visiting Disneyland which can be read about here, here, here and here
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  • You’re the cuddliest little sleeper, but still are pretty wild
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William, you are the perfect middle child. I love your calm and joyful demeanor. You brighten every one of my days. Please never stop reaching to hold my hand and asking me to ‘snuddle’ with you.

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Love,

Mama

 

 

 

family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2019 Florida Vacation–Day 1

I have been looking forward to this for months. Literally months. I was so excited to get away and enjoy some nice warm vitamin D and forget about routine and work and everything else.

We were scheduled to get out of dodge at 6:40 in the morning on Sunday the 24th. The previous Tuesday/Wednesday, reports of another snowstorm to hit us on Saturday evening into Sunday and just knew it was going to be an issue (We’ve had a large snowstorm at least twice a week this month). I called Southwest several times trying to proactively change our flight to get out sooner to avoid it all. They weren’t having it and said I could only change if I wanted to pay the difference. The challenge was, Southwest only flies to PCB on Saturday and Sundays in Feb, so the next flight there was the following Saturday, which was the day we were supposed to come home.

Sure enough, Saturday rolls around and I get the email that our flight was canceled. I get on the phone and start trying to figure something out. They said we could only fly to Pensacola or PCB, but there were no options, so I asked if we could fly into Orlando…which they said yes. So, we booked to leave at 9:40 on Sunday morning and head to Orlando. Given that we were in Orlando and the following day was William’s 4th Birthday, I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to take the Birthday boy to DisneyWorld, so I found an affordable hotel–which happened to be onsite at Disney (Pop Century) and gave us the ability to have Magic Hours and get into the park early, which was a huge win considering we didn’t have any fastpasses. Grammy and Papa also decided to join us on the Disney adventure and each drove a car (theirs and the rented one) 6.5 hours from PCB to Orlando. The situation wasn’t ideal, but at least we were going to get a little something extra out of the inconvenience.

Saturday night, I did some research to learn about Animal Kingdom to have a game plan, but was still very skeptical that our flight was going to take off. And by skeptical–I was a ball of nerves and kind of edgy on to whoever I was talking to.

We ended up getting about 1-2″ of snow that evening and had no challenges in taking off. Kate completely shocked me and feel asleep for a good chuck of the first flight and all was good.

We arrived in Atlanta and grabbed some lunch quick while I figured out the Disney Magical Express. We somehow we misread our tickets or the time hadn’t changed on our phones and when we showed up to board our flight to Orlando, the gate had already closed. AHHH! I was SOOOO mad and frustrated. Still am, a month later. The woman at the gate wasn’t the most helpful and put us on standby to the next flight, which was at 5:30…3 hours from now. Thankfully, another employee herd me complaining and gave us tickets. While we were waiting, Kate pooped twice…which always sucks changing a poopy diaper in public, but twice. Then, William had an incident and pooped his pants a little so Bill was cleaning out his underwear in the sink in the airport. Oh yeah, we were those people. Other than that, the kids were amazing. Amazing. They colored and didn’t complain at all.

Kate was fairly tired, and I spent about an hour and 15 min just walking the terminal with her hoping she would fall asleep in the stroller. No such luck. After a slight delay, our flight took off at 6:00.

Upon arrival in Orlando, we boarded the magical express  and arrived at Pop Century to great greeting from an excited Grammy and Papa.

We eventually arrived in our room around 9:00. We ate some pizza quick, before I headed down to the concierge to get some of our luggage and ticket stuff figured out. After about and hour and a half and two very helpful cast members–I’ve learned a couple of things:

  1. It is VERY important to make sure you list everyone that will be staying in your room when booking a hotel room at Disney.
    • If you don’t, you will have challenges getting everyone onto the Magical Express
    • You may not have the correct number of beds (even if you provide a request)
      • Which will require them to give you a different room, which will delay the arrival of your luggage (which by the way, pack swimsuits or any items that will require immediate use in your carry on as it can take up to 5 hours for your luggage to arrive in your room)
    • You will have a heck of a time getting magic bands for the unlisted guests and then connecting them to your mydisneyexperience in the app

Finally, around 12:30 am, we were back in our room, had all of our luggage. I spent the next hour going through everyone’s bags and pulling out the things we were going to need in the park and re-packing the bags so it could make for an easy departure to the park the following morning.

Love,

Mama

Chirstmas, Kate, Lexi, William

Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas Lexi William and Kate!

We were busy, but in an enjoyable sort of way throughout the entire Christmas season. This year, Christmas feel on a Tuesday. I took the Monday, Christmas Eve off from work and we started the morning with homemade buttermilk pancakes, homemade whipped cream and bacon. They were the best pancakes I have ever made and this will be a tradition moving forward.

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Most of the morning was pretty low key. Lexi and William were giddy-excited that Santa was coming tonight. Lexi exclaimed,’Ahh tomorrow is the day I get my Barbie Dreamhouse!’ I had to remind her that just because you ask for something doesn’t mean you get it. You two were so excited, you were pretending it was Christmas morning and opening gifts and acting surprised. William goes, ‘I got a Mickey!!! Lexi shrieks ‘I got a tablet!!’ LOL!! I died! Where do you come up with these crazy ideas?!?!

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I started getting ready at like 10:30, because it takes a long time to get myself and 3 other kiddos ready 🙂

Kate took an early nap and we were out the door around 2:45 to head to Church. We met Grammy & Papa, Grandma Terri, Grandpa Bill, Great Grandma and Auntie T there.

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After, we headed over to Uncle Pats for Christmas Eve with the Tansey’s. It was a fun celebration as all of the cousins were there, so you kids had a blast running around with all the other kids. Santa made a surprise appearance and brought each of you an early gift. William and Lexi were in disbelief and Kate was terrified. Santa brought William a Paw Patrol set, Lexi a LOL surprise Pearl set and Kate a Minnie Mouse purse and cell phone.

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We headed home around 9:30 and since Pat’s is so close to home, nobody fell asleep. Both Lexi and Kate went right up to bed and were out in a couple of minutes. William helped set out cookies and milk for santa and some carrots for the reindeer. Daddy was also outside flooding the ice rink and William wanted to make sure he had the Grinch dust (green glitter). He says, ‘Dad, the grinch isn’t real–he’s just a character.’ Dad responds, ‘I know, but we’ll spread it around just in case’. William yells through the crack in the door, ‘Ok, Don’t forget to get the roof! You are so sweet buddy!

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Christmas morning, I was Shocked that you all slept in past 8:30, especially considering how excited you were. You came into our room and Daddy got the camera set up before we headed downstairs! William b-lined for his Heatwave and transformer trailer for Santa and Lexi was excited about her new table and desk chair and her Barbie’s and Hatchamals that Santa brought her. Lexi bounced around she was so excited and wanted to just rip through everything that had her name on it. However, she was very pumped to give everyone the gifts that she had picked out for them. She searched through the piles to find the items for her and requested that everyone open the gifts from her first. William was much more methodical and wanted to open and play with everything before moving onto the next. Kate was in the kitchen most of the morning eating, while everyone else was opening gifts. Girls gotta eat! She did come in every once in a while and loved her new Minnie Mouse doll, stroller and Unicorn Fingerling. Lexi’s was over-the-moon excited about the Lego hospital kit she received.

IMG_2570-COLLAGEWe spent a good 2 hours opening gifts before eating breakfast, cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit. Then we spent the next several hours putting together Lego kits (Lego hospital and the fire truck) cleaning up and getting ready before heading over to Grammy and Papa’s house around 4.

There we visited, ate some meat pies and enjoyed the next round of gifts.

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Then, on the 26th we were hosting the Sampson’s at our house for our Christmas celebration so we started cleaning the house and getting ready for Christmas celebration #4!

All-in-all it was a jam-packed couple of days, but filled with so much love, gratitude and so much to be thankful for.

Love,

Mama

Chirstmas, William

Good Deeds

Dear William,

For the past couple of years when our elf’s have arrived they have left a little note that asks you to do at least one nice thing for someone else each day. So during bedtime, I ask what was your good deed of the day. Lexi seems to a better job of remembering and proactively thinking about doing something, while you do a lot of hmmm when I ask and therefore didn’t think it was really sinking in, until today.

I was in the middle of moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer and you hop off the toilet and waddle into eyesight and say, ‘Mom, I need you. Can you come help me?’ I say ‘sure’ thinking you are having a hard time pooping. You waddle yourself back, slide back onto the toilet and say, ‘Can you wipe me?’ To what I respond a little disgusted, ‘No buddy, you can do this yourself.’ You then look at me with your big puppy dog eyes and say, ‘Please? Can’t you do a good deed for me?’

And with a big chuckle, and a shake of my head, I say, ‘Sure’

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Love,

Mama

Chirstmas, Kate, Lexi, William

Christmas Activities 2018

Dear Kiddos,

Christmas was no shortage of magic. The anticipation of the season is so exciting to me and I love everything about it. I love the lights on the houses, I love the decorations, (and actually decorating) the baking, the shopping, the music, the process of thinking about gifts and finding good deals, going to church, coordinating adorable outfits, wrapping gifts–everything about it is magic and I hope that you feel the magic and enjoy it as much as I do.

This year, we hosted Thanksgiving so I resisted and didn’t put the Christmas tree up until after Lexi’s birthday party, but the rest of the decorations came out on the evening of Black Friday.

I didn’t haul all the bins out until you were sleeping but then popped my earbuds in and listened to Christmas music (Jim Brinkman’s Piano Instrumental–my fav) and had the house twinkling in delight when you woke up the next morning.

The following Sunday, we headed over to Ivy and Claire’s house to do some cooking baking. We made sugar cookies and some peppermint cookies. You all had a great time, but honestly probably had more fun just playing with your cousins.

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IMG_2187-COLLAGEThe following weekend, the whole family went over to Grammy and Papa’s house for breakfast and Christmas Jammies. Grammy created a scavenger hunt for each of the kids that took them around the house and ultimately led them to their Christmas Jammies.

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The following weekend, we set up the Christmas tree. I usually like to do this by myself as it is a process to put the lights on and then the ribbon and then the ornaments, but figured I would give it a go with you awake and let you enjoy some of the fun too. Lexi was into it for about 5 minutes, but William helped the entire time and loved every moment of picking up the ornaments and finding a spot for it on the tree.

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In the past our elf, Sparkle Minnie has arrived on December 1st, but this year she was sick and didn’t arrive until about December 10th, and she brought a friend, Sparkle Mickey, to keep an eye out on you guys. She also brought you a book, the Giving Tree and asked for your to do a Good Deed everyday as a reminder that the Christmas season is about more than getting gifts, but being thoughtful and considerate towards other people. Lexi definitely understood the concept and we would talk each night about what good deed she did throughout the day. Some days it was sharing her magenta marker with a friend at school or playing with someone who was feeling sad. Other days it was doing William’s chore of unloading the dishwasher, or throwing away Kate’s diapers for mommy and daddy. It was so encouraging to hear how you were being intentional each day about how you can be thoughtful towards others.

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December 8th, we went to Breakfast with Santa at Lexi’s school. Uncle Dustin, Kenzie and Grammy and Papa joined us for some pancakes and crafts. Kate hated Santa, but William asked for a Heat Wave transformer and Lexi asked for a Barbie Dreamhouse.

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We also baked cookies a couple of times and decorated a gingerbread house. We made pretzel hugs, spritz and molasses cookies.

IMG_2380-COLLAGELexi and William both helped pick out gifts to give each other and loved helping wrap them up. Lexi picked up a green lego car kit for William and William picked out a Barbie car for Lexi. We also listened to a lot of Christmas music and would sing Silent Night and Away in a Manger each night before bed.

William had his first Christmas program at Preschool. You looked so handsome and I was proud you actually sang a little bit.

IMG_2396-COLLAGELexi had her annual Dance program. So fun to watch you dance–this is the first time that I’ve seen you smile while you were dancing. In the past, you have always been very focused on the moves and the teacher, you haven’t been able to smile so it was fun to see you ‘perform’

IMG_2453-COLLAGEThen, Lexi had two program’s at school. The first one was just for kindergarteners and you had a little saying you had to memorize and say during the program, ‘B is for Bethlehem, crowded and old, birthplace for Jesus, prophet foretold. Then, there was another one in the afternoon with the entire school where you sang a couple of songs. You also had an advent party in your class and I was able to volunteer for it. There were 4 stations that groups traveled to and I ran a game: pin the nose on the snowman.

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Whew! Lot’s of activities, but so much fun! I’ll create another post for Christmas itself.

Love,

Mama