Saturday, December 30, 2017

Another parenting milestone reached!

This is incredibly late but I can officially say that we are a baby bottle free household and have been since the middle of October!  No more bottles to wash, sanitize or assemble.  If another bottle is given to a child in this house it will not be for one of my kids.  I am happy to be done.

the last bottle

Several people have told me that I will miss it one day and frankly I am not sure that I ever will.  I might miss having that little bitty baby but not having to wash a million bottle parts.  To me, those are two very different things.  It has been about a few months and I can certainly say I hope to never wash another bottle again in my lifetime.

This may have more to do with the fact that my kids wouldn’t drink from the regular bottles with just 3-4 parts wash in total.  Nope, my kids would only drink from Dr. Brown bottles and Playtex Ventaire.  Both with a ridiculous amount of parts per single bottle.

Then add that we needed to make the bottle in advance to avoid gas from the bubbles.  Which to save the “good bottles” (Dr. Brown and Ventaire) from problems with leaking or wearing out vents too quickly we needed to mix the formula in the cheap Gerber bottles.  Which added to wash load.  

Nope, I’m beyond happy to see these go!  So long and good ridden!  

P.S.  I’ll be equally as happy to see the sippy cups go as well.  Not as many parts but still annoying none the less!  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas 2017 Recap

I wanted to recap our 2017 Christmas in this little space.  It is our first Christmas in our Texas Home which I feel like it a little bit special.  We took all an hour to set up Christmas decorations but kept it incredibly simple.  Some garland around the windows, stockings hung up, and a very simple tree is all that you will find in our family room this year.  There are few touches downstairs but it was simple.  This is a good thing though as Bear knocked down the Christmas tree a whopping SIX TIMES!  This a new thing that I will wholeheartedly blame on him watching the Curious George Christmas special one too many times.

Eve is finally starting to understand that something out of the ordinary is happening.  She was just a bitty baby this time last year so I did not expect her to totally understand it.  Bear is getting a better idea of what exactly is going on.  He was able to tell me that Santa brings presents to people but he wasn't sure why or able to tell me how.  The older they get they more they will obviously understand and the more we will be able to share with them the true meaning of Christmas outside of all the commercializing.

Let us start at the beginning with one of my favorite parts of the holiday, Christmas Eve.  All the major work is done.  The toys are built and Christmas day dinner is mostly prepped.  I end my food prep by making Christmas eve dinner.  Keeping along with tradition we had a snack plate.  
Marinated Seared Tofu

While the meal is always delicious, it signifies my time to relax.  When we sit down for dinner I am finally done!  We eat dinner then have dessert while we watch the movie from the kids Christmas Eve Box.  The kids go to bed and we watch another Christmas movie (Christmas Vacation) before settling down so Santa can come. 

We are not morning people and thankfully that means that we get to ease into Christmas morning.  The kids do not wake up early any day of the week and Christmas is no exception.  In fact, we go wake them up!  They are allowed to play with anything that is open and they can open whatever is in their stockings.  When they seem like they have had enough we move downstairs for breakfast.

Once bellies are full we moved back upstairs and began opening up some of the gifts under the tree.  There was a little bit of a struggle to teach Bear that they all were not for him.  Some of them actually were for Eve.  We made a small pile of his toys and let him tear into them.  He happily unwrapped gift after gift asking us to open each one.  We obviously did for most of them.

Eve, on the other hand, would open one then wander around.  Open another and wander around.  This continued most of the morning.  By lunch, she had only opened a quarter of her presents.  While Bear had most of his open, out of the boxes and tossed all over the family room floor.  Before heading downstairs for lunch we had the kids clean up.

Lunch is incredibly simple, snack plate leftovers.  It's can't get much easier than that.  We add in some sliced fruit and veggies depending on what everyone seems to want at the time as well.  Bellies full once again we head back upstairs to play and open more gifts.  We also talked to family briefly before settling in to let Bear play while Eve napped.

For dinner, we had a delicious meal of brisket and roasted veggies.  All of which as insanely easy to do.  The sous vide did the bulk of the work then two trays into the oven and dinner was complete!  We love easy meals on holidays because we don't want to spend the day in the kitchen away from everyone else.  Maybe if we had a huge family Christmas I might want that, but with just the four of us, I want to be around.    

Sous Vide Brisket

The kids had a bath then off to bed for Bear.  We kept Eve up a little bit extra to sit with her while she opened up the last of her gifts.  She seemed to really love having both of our attention at the same time.  It is wasn't too tough to get her to open the rest but when she finished we read her a book then put her to bed.

After the kids were asleep we had some dessert and made the mimosas that we intended to have in the morning but forgot about. We also reflected on the day.  It all went rather well.  There were a few fits thrown by the kids as they learn to share.  Those ended quickly as one of them would move on to another toy ending that fight.  

We also like to see what gifts were the big item for each child.  What did they cling to or go back to repeatedly?  It doesn't even matter who got it for them.  We just love seeing what that item is.  For Bear, it was hands down the Cargo Boat with Crane that his Uncle and Soon to be Aunt picked him up.  It goes along with his train table but we don't have that set up just yet.  It's a good thing that he doesn't care.  He will set that thing up anywhere and play for a long time.  

Eve's was a little harder to pinpoint.  She loved the kitchen set quite a bit.  Spending a long time playing with it.  She also spent plenty of time playing with potsy.  A small talking stock pot with food that well didn't talk because we never put batteries in it.  She did not care so we left them out.  However, despite all of that I think she really liked the Barista set I picked up the day before from the neighborhood for sale page.  The sight of her walking around with a to go cup in one hand and pushing the shopping cart with the other is on I will not soon forget.  She may have seen me do that at Target one too many times. The next day confirmed that was the winner when she beelined right for it upon waking up.

Being far away from family means that Christmas gifts keep coming in.  The next morning I had a knock on the door and more boxes handed to me.  They were more gifts for the kids.  Since Hubby was working I put them aside so we could open them later.  We also had them open their gifts from their Grandparents on facetime.  It didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped because without the distractions from the other toys they started to fight.  Bear wanted all the toys and Eve kept wrecking his track he set up.  While it is all to be expected with little kids you never really want that to happen when you are trying to do something nice for their grandparents.  They settled down and it was nice to see and hear from everyone.  

With the last of the gifts opened it is time to take down the decorations and get ready for an exciting new year!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.  We will be soaking up the family time while we watch the kids rip into gifts and play with their new toys.  It really is something special to see your kids excited on Christmas.

I know we have several friends with spouses that are deployed.  Please take a moment out of your day to remember those who cannot be with their families at this wonderful time of year.  A HUGE Thank you to those who serve.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Christmas Eve Box

Before we even found out we were pregnant with Bear we discussed what traditions we wanted to do in our house with our family. We each had things we liked that were easy enough to incorporate. One thing Hubby remembered was opening up one gift on Christmas Eve that came from a family member.  in our house though nothing was touched until after breakfast Christmas morning.  As a compromise, the Christmas Eve Box came to be.  This was not our idea but one that friend of ours had loved growing up that she continued with her own kids.  We liked it so why not.

I used an old Le Creuset box which I later wrapped.  This is big enough to hold just about anything I want to put inside of it and sturdy enough to hold up from repeated use.  I store the reusable Christmas bags inside of the box throughout the year.  It will stick around as long as it’s in good enough shape.

Moving on to what is inside the box...

One staple item is obviously a Christmas themed movie.  What good is popcorn without the movie to go along with it?  This year our movie is "Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas."  I have not seen it though I have heard it is cute.

Popcorn and Hot Cocoa are needed to enjoy with (or before) the movie.  The kids like their hot cocoa cold.  Not to be mistaken for chocolate milk.

Winter-themed PJ's for at least the kids.  In the past, we have done PJ's for us as well.  This year we didn't need any so we didn't get any.

I also try to add a winter-themed book for each kid.  Some years this may be on in the same but this year and likely the next couple it will be individual books.  They are good at sharing so I don't have a problem with this.

In past years I have been a bit more creative however this year Bear is very into coloring so I put a coloring book and a pack of crayons for the kids in there.  I also tossed in an adult Christmas coloring book as well since he insists we color at the same time as him though not on the same page as him.  While I am not a fan of adult coloring books, I hate wasting pages in his book.  The adult one was as cheap as the kids' books ($1).  Can't really go wrong with that.

Do you do a Christmas Eve box?  What do you put in yours?  I'm looking for some good ideas for next years box.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Playground Outtakes

When two kids get bored and rambunctious the best thing to do is take them to the park.  Hubby was home early which meant that we each could each watch a kid and switch off as needed.  

Eve cannot handle much of the community playground in that it is meant for much older kids.  She tries her best to keep up with her big brother but when he leaves her behind she does her own thing.

Bear prefers the big slides on the third story of the jungle gym.  

So Hobby and Eve went off to run in the field.  By run, I man topple over repeatedly.  Eve not Hubby.  Though that would have been equally as funny.  Shes still working on her balance on grass like most kids her age.

Since Eve was in the field Bear had the jungle gym to himself.  He ran, jumped, and just went wild since he didn't have to worry about anyone else on it.  

When your kid asks you to play.  You awkwardly scale the equipment and join him.  The laughter and smiles are well worth it.  Hubby and Eve joined us for the last couple of trips down the slides which put everyone in a good mood.

There were, of course, a few tears when we left but they quickly dried up when they heard we were having pizza for dinner!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Looking for the Lights

Sunday evening we got bored so we piled the kids into the car with dessert and went driving around to look at the Christmas lights.  Honestly, we were trying to maintain our sanity and kill time before they went to bed.  It was a rough day with the kids and an old-fashioned drive sounded like a good idea.  The kids were belted in not bothering each other, Bear had his dessert, and Christmas music was playing so off we went.  

There are a lot of people in our neighborhood that put lights up.  The past few years they have had a Christmas Lights Contests.  There are four different categories and the picture above won for Winter Wonderland.  While none of the pictures I took really captured how pretty they were it was fun to see what people came up with.

This house didn't win any of the categories but it was one of the kids' favorites.  Bear liked the reindeer grazing in the yard.  Hubby and I liked the Rudolph the red nosed reindeer claymation movie decor on the roof.  

The house above won the Griswold category.  Cars were blocking the other side of the house but there were a ton of lights!  They certainly had a crowd outside that's for sure.

This was another favorite of ours.  They won the color lights category.  The single white lights moved randomly throughout the strands.  I think that added something to the overall effect.  The one category I didn't get a picture of was Classic White.  All the houses with this had the large white single strand lights that traced the roof line.  They were all very pretty and something we might look into doing in the future.  

I normally and not a huge fan of the inflatable decorations.  However, Santa's Taco Truck is just extremely funny to me.  I laugh every time I drive past it.  

Then there is Santa feeding his reindeer.  There are three reindeer that bob their heads up and down like a real animal would do.  You can see the three in the center are the ones that move.  I think the motion is adorable!  The kids were amazed by it as well. 

I may have been the only one to actually think this was a super clever idea.  A nod to both the secular and religious that to me was a great thing to have out.  There were not many that had a religious aspect to them and that is after all the reason for celebration.  

Bear then rambled on about our lights as and the colors we had after we got back home.  We had been pointing out colors and different items throughout that he was eager to try to find at our own house.  Sadly we just have lights up outside.  Nothing fancy this year since we don't really own outside decorations.

By the time we got back home it was bedtime for the kids.  Eve was half asleep anyway which was perfect since she hadn't been sleeping well.  Bear wasn't as tired as her but he did not fight going to bed.  Both kids slept through the night and didn't wake up until 8AM!!! We all got some much-needed sleep!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Here Comes Santa Claus

The local fire department has Santa on a fire engine that drives through the neighborhood.  We thought the kids might really enjoy this so we checked the neighborhood page to check his whereabouts.  After taking a few guesses about the time they would pass by us, we got everyone ready and headed to the end of the street.  

Once there we waited and waited and waited some more.  We had been there for all of 25 minutes waiting before we broke out the phones for some amusement.  Then Bear and I took some selfies to pass the time.

Hubby soon found out that Santa stopped at the gas station before heading into our development because he ran out of candy.  Someone online asked for more candy and we answered that call.  There was a bunch of leftover Halloween candy that was going to waste so a person came to pick it up.  Hubby ran home while I waited with the kids on the corner.

It was another 20 minutes later before we saw any sign that Santa was nearby.  At this point the kids got restless.  Bear started to put on a show for the neighbors and Eve got antsy wanting to run.  At just shy of 9pm Santa was coming up the street.  There was a lead truck with Christmas music blaring.  Everyone had lights on making it even more exciting for the kids.  

Santa sat atop one of the fire engines and tosses candy out for the kids.  They had light and some beeps of the siren as they slowly passed by.

Eve didn’t know what to make of it all but she happily watched and cheered like everyone else.  The picture doesn’t show how happy she actually was.  I try to not sit behind a lens during things like this. I snap a few pictures and whatever I get, I get.  Though I wish I had one where she didn't look upset because they were leaving.  

Bear picked up a piece and we headed home.  Eve walked home holding Hubby's hand while I walked with Bear who was getting increasingly more upset the closer we got to home.  Who knew keeping the kids up past their bedtime, having them wait outside for an hour to catch a two-minute glimpse of Santa would lead to a full meltdown. 

I went to bed that night defeated wondering why I even bother to push for experiences like this one.  I know a lot of it had to do with the long wait time, but the fit later was not something I had planned for.  The kids went to be quickly and we followed soon after. 

In the morning I saw Bear playing with his fire engines and paw patrol cars reenacting the whole Santa sighting.  He played happily and smiled at me when he noticed I was watching him.  I guess this is why we do things like this for our kids.  No matter how frustrating it can be they still seem to remember the good parts.

Tacos all around

Crockpot Chile Verde I have never cooked with tomatillos before so I treated them like tomatoes and cut the area of the stem out.  ...