Friday, November 1, 2013

'Tis the Season...

I was so excited for Christmas this year, I started planning in early October. Here are some of the holiday highlights:

Tree lighting at Bayshore
We got all bundled up and watched the lighting of Bayshore Town Center's 50-foot Christmas tree! Santa was there and so were the Nutcracker characters, including toy soldiers on stilts. We had a fun family dinner at the brand new Sprecher restaurant while we waited for the countdown.

Richards Elementary School's Festival of Lights
The kids' holiday program was absolutely magical! Madeline and all the first graders sang songs from the Nutcracker Suite, and Charlie's K4 class was so adorable, singing classics like, "O Tannenbaum." They practiced in school for months. During the performance (at the back of the Great Hall where we were able to find seats), John got into a chicken fight with a little boy his age that had everyone around us in hysterics -- each 2-year-old took turns saying, "No, I'm a big boy!"

St. Nick
Neither Rob or I grew up with visits from St. Nick, but everyone here in Milwaukee has, so when in Rome, do as the Romans do! I absolutely love picking up new fun traditions. On the night of December 5, St. Nick dropped off some chocolate coins and a tiny gift for each of the kids in the shoes they had excitedly lined up by the front door the night before.

Breakfast with Santa at Hotel Metro
For the second year in a row, we invited Poppa and Ning to have  Breakfast with Santa in a fancy downtown hotel (only this year they pulled a fast one and treated us, as they love to do). Santa surprised the kids at our table -- they suddenly got so shy that they would hardly even look at him. At the end of the meal, when the kids didn't think it could get any better, they got to fill goody bags from a candy bar, then we all jumped into a picture with Santa (including me, Rob, Poppa and Ning) in his big North Pole chair.

Decorating a Family Gingerbread House at Church 
Our church, Fox Point Lutheran, has this all figured out. There must have been 100 families decorating homemade gingerbread houses with beautiful supplies. Which was great because the house we made at home earlier in the week wouldn't even stand (but the kids had fun eating it!).

Caroling with the Daisy Troop
My co-leader, Lucy, and I organized Cocoa and Caroling for our 29 Daisy Scouts! We sipped Lucy's homemade hot cocoa while everyone met at the school, and then walked door to door, with our little group of enthusiastic singers. The first stop was to deliver cookies we decorated to a military family  whose children attend Richards Elementary, and our troop sent a care package to the father, Dr. David Milia, who was serving in Afghanistan over the holidays.

The Nutcracker and the "Dinosaur" Museum
This was the first year Madeline attended the Nutcracker and she absolutely loved it! About ten minutes into the ballet, she asked why they weren't talking. I showed Charlie a five minute five video of the Nutcracker on YouTube before I bought tickets, and he opted instead to go to what he calls "the dinosaur museum," or the Milwaukee Public Museum, with Rob. They had pancakes and milkshakes afterwards.

Making chocolate-covered pretzels for all the neighbors
What a fun afternoon, melting chocolate, dipping pretzels, decorating them with candy and eating all the mess ups! Then I pulled John in the wagon and we all delivered them to neighbors and friends around the neighborhood.

Shopping for our Christmas tree and carrying it all the way home!
There's a charming Christmas tree lot around the corner from our house. The kids loved choosing our tree! Rob thought it would be a memorable experience if we walked the tree home instead of driving it. And it was! We rested the trunk on the double stroller's handle bars and the kids helped steer. Something about working together as a family to bring home our tree really put us in the holiday spirit!

Holiday Cards
Hand writing Christmas cards is one of my favorite traditions. This year, we put on our Christmas-y clothes in September, and my dear friend, Lucy, took our picture in her backyard during a dinner party! I had the cards ordered and delivered by October, and worked through the months of November and December to send out hundreds to all the people we love.