Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas is more than just a day

Ever since I became an adult I have felt like there is all this build up to Christmas, and then when the actual day comes I am left feeling like it was a little anti-climactic. Perhaps it was because I moved away from friends and family and Jimmy and I spent our first couple Christmas' alone here. We don't have a house full of people laughing and sharing stories. We don't have family sitting around our table sharing a meal with us during the Holidays anymore.

Maybe it is because when I was a kid and after the presents were ripped open and the candy in the stocking was devoured I had new toys to be excitedly playing with until bedtime. Now that I am a parent myself after the presents are ripped open I watch my kids play with them, while I roast a turkey and clean up tape and wrapping paper, use the jaws of life to get toys out of their boxes, put together toys, and use what feels like every tool in my toolbox just to get the back off of these toys so I can insert batteries. No wonder it is not as exciting in reality as I build it up to be in my head... well except for my Christmas Tree that is. I just love it. I wish I could keep it up all year.

It donned on me today that I shouldn't place all the excitement and build up on actual Christmas Day. Cause that day is not for me anymore. It is for my kids. And even though I get so much joy out of giving to them and seeing their little faces light up when they open their gifts, it is not the same anymore. And that is ok. So I have decided instead to focus on the MONTH of Christmas. The entire Christmas Season from start to finish. From the Black Friday shopping to the commercials on TV. To the neighbors up on ladders trying to out-do each other with lights. To playing I spy Christmas Lights with my kids in the car or taking after-sundown strolls to see the lights around our block. To the Christmas parties and festivals and crafts and fun we will have this next month. To the Christmas carols I listen to all day everyday this time of year, and never get sick of. To taking my baby to see The Nutcracker and exchanging presents with my besties. To Jimmy and Mine's Christmas Night hot tub tradition. All of THAT is now MY Christmas. So let the kids have the presents and the excitement that toys can bring on that one day. I will enjoy a month worth of Christmas instead. Starting with our Christmas Lights, which are finally up outside. Ella begged us to put up "Rainbow" lights this year. So Daddy took all our clear lights down off the house and trees and put up multi-colored. And he even hit five stores to find a strand that had purple bulbs cause it is her favorite color. And we haven't seen them on any other house yet. :) Score! (PS how cute is he???)

In the spirit of celebrating every day of the Christmas season our family will be attempting to do one Christmas related activity EVERY DAY from Dec 1 - Dec 25. I even made a cute little countdown calendar to keep track of all our activities and get the kids excited to countdown to the big day. I am hoping to post a few pics every day of the activities we do. It will take a big commitment but I think it will be easy to pull off as long as we keep the activities small (like watching Rudolph one night or picking out a new ornament another night, to re-naming our elf this night... etc) Here is our countdown calendar.

A few weeks ago we tried to get the kids excited for the Holiday season by taking them to the mall to see it decorated. While there we had dinner at Grimaldi's Pizza. YUM. We love it there cause the pizza is DELISH. The girls loved it cause they can watch the pizzas be made and put in the oven...

...and because they bring the kids some dough to the table that they can play with like play-dough while we wait for our food to cook.

After our dinner, we walked over to BUILD-A-BEAR to get them... what else?... the Clarice and Rudolph bears!! No Christmas in the Carilli house would have been complete without those two. And our super saver Groupon got us them at half off. Woo hoo! Ella is an old pro by now and dove right into it. Of course hers had to be Clarice, the girl.

but this was Ryen's first time at Build-A-Bear and she was SO shy about it. She clung to me the entire time and watched Ella go first. She was very timid about handing her Rudolph off to the lady, and she wouldn't even press the pedal to stuff him unless I helped her. Then Daddy had to take her over and show her how to give Rudolph his "bath".

But she eventually started to warm up and her and Ella chose their hearts to seal inside their reindeer.

And seriously... look at this face when she was finished. She was so happy and proud of herself... sigh. How fast these moments will go. This is what they mean by enjoy the small things. It doesn't get much better than that. :)

PS one of these days I will figure out how to get my photos to come out ok in Build-A-Bear. It is just like the library. There is so much darn YELLOW all over the store that every photo is tainted. lol. But here are our new babies :)

After our Reindeer were packed we headed over to the play area for some fun before bed.

And then Ella broke into Santa's area to check out his decorations and make sure his seat would be comfortable for when he arrived. Everything passed with flying colors and we didn't get kicked out by security. j/k

Here is hoping you can make the Magic of Christmas last all month long too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Schneider Family

My friend Teresa knows I have a good camera and a passion for taking pics of my kids and their friends and decided to ask me if I would save her a headache and agree to shoot some pics of her Family. I was nervous cause I was worried she would be expecting professional results, and obviously, a photographer I am not. But I have had professional photographers shoot us and have seen enough pics that I thought I could probably take 200+ pics in an attempt to get her 20-30 good ones. Really she just needed a few good ones for her Christmas card and anything on top of that was bonus.

Once I was comfortable she knew what to expect I was actually excited for the challenge. I had just taken a photography workshop to better understand how to use my fancy camera and thought this would be a good challenge. It was a challenge and a learning experience. I can tell from how the pics came out when I looked at them later, when I was running out of light and should have switched lenses earlier. When I needed to adjust my ISO differently, where I should have kept my elbows in and the camera steadier to avoid blur, etc. Her family is so cute and her girls were so excited to be in front of the camera that they made it easy and fun and helped calm my nerves. Here are some of my favorite photos from the shoot. I am glad she likes the ones she has seen so far and I am hope she likes the rest.

Thanks Teresa for asking me practice on your family. :) Happy Holidays! xoxo

As you can see, I have a lot to learn and need to figure out how to keep pics from coming out blurry. But I am looking forward to the learning curve. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Our friends Steve and Lisa Glowacka adopted the "family-less" Carilli family for Thanksgiving this year, since we have no family here in Arizona. Our kids were excited to spend the day playing with "Medicine and Wiley" as Ryen likes to call them (Madison and Riley are their real names of course! ha ha) And I was excited to get my hands on Baby Landon, who I haven't snuggled with in a while. :)

When we arrived the set up was so cute and so cozy! Lisa had the dining room set all beautiful for the four of us.

The place settings were beautiful as were the candles.

She even made little pine cone place holders for everyone.

Lisa also set up a kids table next to it for our four littles. Colorable placemats for the kids, skittles goodybag for dessert and little mayflower paper boats at each kids seat. How cute is she? Even if we did appreciate the kids table more than the kids did, it was still adorable.

We had a long wait for dinner and my kids were hungry and ansy cause they ate an early lunch. So they found ways of keeping busy. They played "dinner party", colored, played with babies, and Ryen's personal favorite of up and down- up and down on the stairs! LOL

We unfortunately had a Turkey that did NOT want to cooperate in the deep fryer. I swear that Turkey cooked for over an hour the first time, and wasn't ready. Went back in the deep fryer for another 25 minutes and still wasn't ready. It was the turkey that didn't want to cook! LOL. But we had a wonderful assortment of side dishes to choose from and very hungry children. So we got to business "gobbling" up mashed potatoes, squash, green bean casserole, YUMMY stuffing, carrots and rolls! And since I don't really eat turkey, I wasn't really missing anything. All we needed was some Chinese waiters singing "Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra Ra-ra-ra-ra" and the setting would have been complete. LOL

Jimmy on the other hand, looks forward to Thanksgiving dinner more than any other meal any other day of the year. So he was having a harder time accepting Turkey defeat. But I promised to go to the grocery store today and get a turkey and roast it this Sunday! :) And The Glowacka Family is more than welcome to join us for Thanksgiving Part 2, complete with a Roasted Turkey this time. (as long as they bring little Love Bug!!)

In the end, I was too busy being thankful for what we did have to miss the turkey. We had such an abundance of good fortune around us, and good friends and healthy kids, and more food then we could even eat, and beautiful cheesecake, pie, and turkey cookies, and laughter amongst the humbleness and humility of our Turkey disaster. And there was always football too. And speaking of those yummy goodies:

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. This was certainly one, we wont forget for awhile. ;)