Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Magical Christmas Season Underway......

The Christmas season is underway and it's absolutely magical. Literally! The kids are at an age where they believe in everything! They are simply captivated and filled with wonder; seeing it all through their eyes has brought us so much joy.

We had so much fun picking out the Christmas tree and loading it up onto the car. Our house smells divine -- I just love the fresh scent of pine. Charlie and I strung lights on the perimeter of our fence and I took a stab at my first ever evergreen window boxes and planters, accented with red dogwood sticks. It's fun to see our neighborhood decorations too -- when Charlie notices an evergreen garland, he asks me why people have seaweed hanging on their door.
Every night, after bath and pajamas, the kids sit around the tree for a holiday or winter-themed story, drinking sugarplum tea out of miniature Christmas mugs and nibbling on something sweet while they listen to the book. John climbs up on the ottoman and squeezes in between his big brother and sister. Rob and I make a point to stop everything we're doing to sit down as a family. I'm already thinking about how to continue this lovely time after Christmas is over!

Another new tradition for us this year has been the elf who visits us every morning....the kids named him Tinsel. He's been pretty tame so far, but little do the kids know the silly mischief he's about to create! Rob (such a great dad!) remembers to hide him every night.

This weekend, we had a very special breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Pfister, an 1893 historic Lake Michigan hotel; we invited my dad and Ning to come too! The kids all sat on Santa's lap and told him what they wanted. Madeline asked for clothes for her American Girl doll and Charlie asked for firefighting gear. John cracked us up -- it was one of those classic moments where he cried and arched his back, trying to escape from Mrs. Claus' arms. At one point during brunch, we led Charlie astray, giving him what we thought was homemade whipped cream, only to find out (as he retched and gagged) that it was actually butter for the pancakes. Poor kid. How very unsophisticated of us.
And this weekend, we went to a gingerbread house decorating party hosted by the Judy family, new friends of ours here in Whitefish Bay! Each family had a house to decorate and take home. It was such a happy scene -- carols playing behind the cacophony of 25 sugared-up kids having the time of their lives. Fabulous.

The cards are almost all addressed (I underestimated and actually had to order a second shipment!), the Christmas shopping almost complete. Tonight after the kids fall asleep, we'll put chocolate in their shoes to celebrate St. Nick's Day! I can hardly wait for Madeline's Christmas program at school. And of course, the kids run down to the kitchen every morning to open their advent calendars.
While we'll always create wonderful memories at Christmas, this season of life where the kids believe in Santa, mischievous elves and flying reindeer won't last forever. I'm soaking it up and enjoying every second.

Thanksgiving on the Beach

Thanksgiving was very special this year. We feel so blessed when we're all able to be together! My dad and Ning rented a fabulous, sprawling house in Two Rivers (which the locals pronounce "Twivers" -- I can't say it with a straight face) right on Lake Michigan! Mollie and Kenny flew in from Boulder and Andi and Kyle drove up from St. Louis. We weren't in the door for more than an hour before we all had on our matching pajamas, a Wiebmer holiday tradition! With red and green stripes, we called ourselves Christmas convicts.

On Thursday morning, Nancy threw the Turducken (chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey) in the oven and the wonderful smells started to fill our home away from home. The kids decorated placemats for every guest, including Rob's parents and sister, who drove up from Geneva, IL, for the big meal -- it was wonderful to have them! We only wished that Kyle and Kenny's parents could have been there too! After the meal, before even clearing the table, we all put on our shoes and played on the beach, the cold wind whipping our faces and helping us work up our appetites again for pumpkin cheesecake.

Dance Party 2012!
We woke up the next morning to Wiebmer Christmas (we'll all be with our husbands' families on Dec. 25)! We set up a four foot Christmas tree, played carols and put gifts under the tree -- it was even snowing outside! That evening, after a candlit dinner (and our pajama photophoot), the time had finally come for our annual Dance Party! Lady Gaga, Chicken Dance, Def Leapard -- we rocked out, swinging the kids dad even danced Gangham Style (just about as funny as him channeling Barbara Streisand a few years ago...."Memories..."). Everyone was so generous and thoughtful in their gifts -- we felt so loved!

The next day, the girls went to Kohler for a fun lunch and to see to gorgeous showroom ($20,000 bathtubs! Fabulous!), and we antique shopped on the way home. The guys had gone to Appleton the afternoon before to see Kyle's old stomping grounds when he worked for Kimberly Clark.

We were sad that the trip had to end -- we have so much fun together! But it was an amazing vacation and a wonderful start to our Christmas season!

[Note: Lots more pictures to come soon!]
The kids love their aunts and uncles!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Fabulous Halloween!

Halloween was a blast this year! Charlie and John dressed up as Big and little Spiderman; watching John follow his big brother around in their muscle suits was possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen. And  Madeline was a fairy butterfly -- Rob's mom worked for weeks, making a truly exquisite costume. It was exactly what Madeline described to her back in August, right down to the tiniest details. She made a little girl's dream come true!

We had so much fun decorating the house for the holiday and enjoying the season in general -- hanging banners, painting and carving pumpkins, making s'mores in the firepit, jumping in leaf piles. Of course, the Great Pumpkin Festival led right up to Sunday's trick-or-treating! Madeline had the endurance of a marathon runner, but Charlie was more interested in passing out candy than collecting it; he would stand at the door and holler, "Mommy, there's another customer coming!" when he'd see children approaching. 

Madeline had a darling program at school, singing songs with all four kindergarten classes (yes, I have video. Are you kidding?). And I felt so lucky to get to help in her classroom for her Halloween party, moderating spooky bingo and passing out cupcakes to 17 excited Harry Potters, Ninja Turtles, Batmans and Princesses.
Roasting s'mores! Charlie's in his firefighter suit (how appropriate).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Great Pumpkin Festival!

An absolute highlight of this gorgeous fall was the Great Pumpkin Festival that Whitefish Bay hosts in the park two blocks from our house. We had no idea how amazing it would be (except that everyone kept telling us how amazing it would be!).

Madeline and Charlie both choose a pumpkin from the lot and we carved them in a special tent. Little by little, as the sun went down, the entire community spilled into Old Schoolhouse Park, until it was teeming with hundreds of kids. Bulbs were strung in the trees and it smelled like kettle corn, caramel apples and fried fish. Mads, Charlie and John played with all their friends from school, danced to live music, and climbed on 1,000 pound pumpkins. The carving and entertainment continued for five nights, and by the end of the festival, there were hundreds of jack-o-lanterns lit up on bleachers.

Even Maple got in on the fun! She was in a pooch parade wearing her blow fish costume (now her second parade appearance!) -- we started at the Festival site and ended at the specialty dog store near our house. We even had our own police escort!