Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Otter Antics, Week Five and Six

Dear Ian,

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through our house, we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off but grinning from ear to ear. 

You are so completely excited about tonight.  At one point this morning, you were literally running back and forth from the living room to the kitchen singing, "Santa is coming, Santa is coming."  We have been watching movies, icing cookies, making meatballs and singing Christmas carols since 7am this morning. 

While you are almost off your rocker with excitement, you've been able to keep yourself in check thanks to both me keeping you busy and you being watched by Otter.  Tonight is his last night with us, as he will head back to the North Pole after Santa delivers his gifts and treats.  Would it be strange for a full grown Mommy adult to openly admit that I am a little bummed that the Otter fun is about to end?  Strange or not, I feel a little let down that after today, I wont get to wake up to you coming down the stairs asking if I've seen Otter yet.  I wont have that extra leverage when you do become a little... feisty... after today.  But I know that you have had a great time with our morning Otter Searches, and it's been great to see your faith in Christmas magic grow.

These last couple of weeks with Otter have been fun, and he's been up to all sorts of mischief.  Here we go!
 Here's Otter working out!  He must have been doing hanging sit ups.  He's on Daddy's pull-up bar.
 Silly elf.  Checking out the Reindeer food that you made at school with Ms. Amy.
Traveling to the North Pole every night must be exhausting.  Here's otter snuggling with your Lovey.
 Checking to see if you fed your fishies. 
 On this morning, Otter suggested that you have a mug of hot cocoa. 
Wow!  Special day!  Otter left you some new Christmas jammies.
 And uh oh.  Sometimes elves just cant resist chocolate.  Otter got into our stash of Hershey Kisses.
On this morning, we woke up to a little problem.  How in the world will we get up and down the stairs?!
 And who was the culprit behind that crepe paper barricade?  Otter, of course.
This was taken today, Christmas Eve.  It's Otter's last morning surprise, and he hung balloons by our stockings hung with care.  He even wrote you a note.  Here it is:
If you cant read it, it says:

Dear Ian,
Today is the last day I will watch over you in your house.  Tonight, Santa will come, and after he delivers his gifts and fills your stocking, he will take me back to the North Pole.  But don't be sad.  Tomorrow is Christmas!  Let's have a party!  I even blew up the balloons!  Have a cookie, sing a song, and let's get ready for a happy, happy day with family.  You have been a pretty good boy this year; keep up the good work, and I will see you very soon!  Love always, Otter.

And now it's time to take our naps and get ready for all our Christmas Eve fun.  From a party at Grandma and Grandpa Brooks' house, to meatball subs at Grandma and Papa Davis' house, to stories and cookies left for Santa, we have a lot for which we need to rest up.  And I can't wait.

I love you, Bear!
Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

Dear Ian,

This time of year there's always so much to do.  From wrapping gifts to decorating trees to just running around high on sugar and Christmas energy, there's so many activities to join in on to celebrate this special time of year.

I know I have already done one post on all the of the prep work we've been doing to get ourselves ready for Christmas, but then we just kept doing cool stuff!  So this post is a continuation of all the pre-Christmas fun we've been having.

First up, we have our annual cookie baking and making marathons.  You helped me roll out and cut the dough into about 18 dozen batches of cookies.  No, I am not exaggerating.  There were at LEAST 18 dozen cookies made.  I honestly stopped counting because I was going cross-eyed looking at all of them.  We use my Grandmother's recipe, which was even more special to me this year, with our  missing Great Poppey.  I know it was him looking down and laughing at us when I discovered the lemon extract from 2004 and when you dropped a FULL CUP of sugar.  But I wouldn't trade these memories for anything.  The making of these cookies will always be special.  And they are also quite fantastic.

 Here you are working away on rolling and cutting out the dough.
Such a good cookie maker!
 Then came the sprinkles.  Grandma, Payton, Taylor and Aunt Megan came over to help with all of the decorating.  It was Taylor's first decorating experience.
 Payton and Aunt Megan working hard.
Me and my little sprinkle partner.  I iced, you sprinkled. 
A small sampling of our finished products.  Like I said, with at least 18 dozen, this is definitely a SMALL sampling. 

And now that I've written this part, I'm ready for a cookie, but there's more work to be written here. 

This weekend we also participated in the Havana Lawn Mower, Golf Cart and Tractor Parade.  Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.  Papa brought over a little cart, and I got to work decorating it for an appearance in the town of Havana.  I personally think it turned out pretty dang well, and the judging committee thought so too, since we won second prize!  The first prize winner really did have an awesomely decorated mower and wagon.  Next year... 
 Here's our entry for the parade.  Since I was pulling you and your cousins in the wagon, I decided to go with a "sweets" theme.  Because I honestly cant think of anything sweeter than you little people.  I just wish that Nole had been in the wagon, too.
 My boy and the Power King all ready to go!
After the parade, you got to see Santa again, and I just love this little smile.

Finally, our last bit of prep work was our Christmas card for this year.  Ms. Linda Long at Longs Photography took this photo of you, and to me, it really sort of embodies the whole Christmas spirit through the eyes of a child.  You were SO excited every time you saw Santa, but this picture really just really brings out those teary Mommy moments.
And here is our finished card for 2013.  

Another year, another Christmas, and another handful of memories captured and tucked away in my heart.

Merry Christmas, my baby.

"Snow" Much Fun

Dear Ian,

I have lived in Tallahassee all of my life.  From the top observation deck of the new capitol you can see the hospital in which I was born, where I attended middle school, high school and college all in a straight line.  Daddy and I got married in the big church just off FSU's campus, and we decided to keep Tallahassee our home.  You were born in the "new" hospital just down the road from our house.  It's a great place to live; lots of enriching things to see and do, FSU football, and of course our extended families.  However.  There's one aspect of Tallahassee that makes me sad to my core, especially during Christmastime:  The weather. 

Uncle Brian once compared living in Tallahassee to living in Florida's armpit.  And while geographically, it really does look like that, the biggest similarity is the humidity.  Ugh.  We don't get the gentle sea breezes of the coastal counties.  We get saggy, soggy summers.  We get wet winters where the damp cold reaches all the way into your bones.  And with that wet cold, we hardly ever get the benefit of snow.  I have to change the channel when "White Christmas" or "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" comes on the radio or TV music channel, so great is my jealousy. 

But this year, we managed to find a fun family activity and live a little vicariously of the people north of us who get that white fluffy awesomeness.  (I'm sure they are all ready for a bit of our Florida sun right about now, though.) 

We attended the Snow Festival!  The festival organizers had icy snow brought in for all us snow deprived Tallahasseeans!  It was held on Chiefs Field, and we had a great time building a snow tower and throwing snow balls at each other.  Only problem was it was 74 degrees, so the snow would melt a little and then refreeze making these rock hard snow balls.  We had to change our plan and just throw lightly formed hand-fulls of snow so we didn't knock one another unconscious.  It was a blast though!

Throwing a snow ball at Daddy.
 You and Payton making a snow tower.
 Our family in the snow.
 Cousins in the snow.
 You were having SO much fun.
Making snow balls.  The green "grass" (Chief's Field is astro-turf) next to the snow was funny to me.  

You had such a good time, and when it was time to leave you pitched an uncharacteristic fit about having to go home.  But I sort of felt the same way.  It was sad to leave our temporary Winter Wonderland to go back to Humid Town.  But one of these days maybe we'll get to have a white Christmas.  Who knows.  Maybe we can do a Christmas in Cohocton.  That would be neat. 

For now, Tallahassee snow will have to do, and we can keep dreaming of those White Christmases.

I love you!

Christmas Show Time!

Dear Ian,

No Christmas holiday would be the same without your Advent Christmas program, and as usual, Ms. Jan did a great job getting all the classes ready to perform.  Your class performance was great, and lucky you had a big audience in attendance to cheer you on.  Grandma Davis came to watch, and so did Aunt Megan, Uncle Gary, Payton and Taylor!  Of course Daddy and I were there.  

Ms. Jan getting your class all lined up.  It never ceases to amaze me how you all can get up in front of people and not lose your minds. 
 Ready to perform!
 Sitting next to your buddy Rawly.  We may need to work on your posture...
Your whole class on stage.  You sang a song about Baby Jesus, a song about camels and wise men, and then you played maracas in the song Santa's Jingle Bell Band.  You REALLY got into your maraca part.  And yes, I do have video.
 You and your classroom teacher, Ms. Jan after your show.
 You with your classroom teacher, Ms. Jackie.  We are so lucky to have such amazing teachers for you. 
And finally, the awesome Ms. Jan McLaughlin, your music teacher.  

It was a great Christmas show, and it really helped us get into the Christmas spirit, but it was a glaring reminder that the big day was even closer!  And now as I type this, tomorrow is Christmas Eve!  Mom has a ton of writing to do!

You make me so proud, and I cant wait to share this Christmas season with you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Otter Antics, Week Four

Dear Ian,

Holy moly is time zipping by!  We are exactly one week away from Christmas, and we have had so much going on as we prepare for the day.  You, Daddy and I have been having a blast, and I cant wait to have a minute or two to sit down and write about all of it. 

As for now, I have just enough time to give you an update on our favorite elf.  He has been one busy little dude.  Must be something about this house that keeps us all hoppin'.

Otter started off the week by reporting to Santa via Ham Radio.  He had a report called all filled out for you, and we got to take a sneak peek at it.  It was pretty dang good looking, and we were all super excited to see that "Nice List" stamp in the corner.
 The next morning, Otter spelled out your name with some Legos you left on the floor. 
 Silly Elf.  It's a wonder he didn't wake you up with this silliness.  Here he is sliding down the railing of our stairs.
 Otter wants to help remind us of the reason for the season.  He and the angel from our nativity are worshiping baby Jesus.
 This was super fun!  One morning, Otter hid 10 candy canes around our house for you to find. We had so much fun looking for them, and then we used them to decorate our Christmas tree.
And the last photo for this post:  Otter brought you some amazing snow from Santa's work shop.  Of course it's not real snow, but it is really soft, and it kinda feels like snow.  It was a lot of fun to play with.

We had a great week with our little elf, and as Christmas gets closer, I am sure we will continue to have fun.  Only sad thing is, once Christmas comes, Otter will have to head back to the North Pole, and I just don't know what we will do with ourselves in the mornings.  But we don't have to think about that yet.  Let's just have some more fun!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Otter Antics, Week Three

Dear Ian,

Boy, these weeks have been just flying by!  As I write this post, we have exactly two weeks until Christmas.  When did THAT happen?!  We've been decorating, shopping for gifts and in general getting ready for the big day.  We've been pretty dang busy, andI am actually a bit behind on our Otter posts.  But I'm here, so let's get going:

You actually spent a lot of time having sleep overs with the Grands this week, but Otter followed you from place to place to keep an eye on your behavior.  But for the times the two of you were at home, he kept us hopping with some fun pranks!
 The week started off pretty tame, with Otter hanging out in your stocking.  He looks like he's waving hello!
On this morning we woke up to find him making paper snowflakes!  He even left extra paper so that way you could make a few snowflakes of your own!  He's sitting next to your school picture for this year.  Awww.
One morning, after a particularly good day of behavior, Otter felt like you deserved a little gift!  He brought you a special book of Christmas mazes.  He knows what you like!
Well, we knew the tame stuff wouldn't last long.  We woke up this morning to find that your nutty elf had gift-wrapped your potty!  Your laugh when you found him like this was absolutely great!  
Otter and Papa have something in common!  They both LOVE "Pepsi Juice."  We woke up this day to see that he had a little treat the night before.  Nothing like Pepsi and a fancy umbrella straw.
And finally we ended the week with Otter playing Super Elf and hanging from our chandelier in the dining room.  This did give him a good view of all of your goings on in the house.  

So there you have it: week three with Otter the Elf.  Only a few more weeks until Christmas!!  

I love you, Baby Bear!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Ian,

I just wanted to take a second and post a photo of your letter to Santa this year.  We've already mailed it off, but I took a picture so that way we could always remember your hopes and wishes for Christmas, 2013. 

This year, you are asking for a bike.  This seems to really be your only Christmas wish, because you have to really think hard to think up something else to add to your list.  Hopefully you keep up the good behavior so that your wish can come true.

I love you, Ian.

Prep Work

Dear Ian,

Happy December!  Today is December first, which means we have exactly 24 days until Christmas, and we've been busy trying to get into the spirit of the holiday. Yes, it may seem a little early, but we are typically pretty busy, so those days are going to fly by.  Santa, Daddy and I have already been conferring with each other regarding your behavior and what you would like for Christmas.  Decorations have been put up, and we've been busy little elves, thinking of gifts for others.

First things first, we had to decorate the house.  We got to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, while our Thanksgiving part two was in the oven.  Off to the shed we went to haul in the boxes of lights, ornaments, greenery and our organically challenged tree.  You were a huge help with the tree this year.  The branches are put on in an alphabetical order, and each branch has a letter.  You helped me group each set, and then we unfolded them and put them up.  You had an ulterior motive,though, I must admit.  I told you that we could put your Christmas train up once we had the tree assembled at lit.  You only asked me if we were finished yet about 96 times. 

Finally we got it up, lit and in place, and you got to set up your tracks and train.  You were thrilled to death, and got right to work.  Until we realized we needed new batteries in it, but once we got those, you were back to work.  Since then our train has been running pretty much non-stop, but you are one happy boy.  Best part of the morning: we were playing Christmas music the whole time we decorated, and at one point, you stopped, looked up at me and said, "I love this year." I am assuming you meant that you love this time of year, but regardless, it just made my day.

So now we have a decorated house.  What's next?  A visit to Santa and a letter, too!  The other day we headed to Bass Pro Shop.  I had never been in there, so we all went as a family, and guess who we saw?!  Santa!  He has a special little area set up in the store, and you got to talk to him about your Christmas wishes.  Santa and his helper elves had an area set up where you could write a letter to Santa, color a picture and make an ornament.  You worked really hard on your picture that you colored, and it turned out great!  Then you carefully wrote out your letter and put it in Santa's mailbox.  It was a lot of fun, and it really helped us get in the Christmas Spirit.
 Here you are putting your letter in Santa's mailbox. 

You posing with a reindeer.   I loved the set up they had.  It was so festive.

We've also started watching Christmas movies to get us in the spirit.  So far, we spent a Friday night watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while drinking hot chocolate.  We've also watched The Cat In The Hat Knows  A Lot About Christmas and The Elf on the Shelf movie.  Of course, we have Otter creating all kinds of Christmas fun, and this afternoon we're going to a special Cookies and Milk with Santa event.  I can't wait.  I completely agree with you, Buddy.  I love this time of year.  I love seeing your face when you see decorations, and I love hearing you sing Christmas Carols when you think no one is listening.  I love seeing you in your festive jammies, and I it melted my heart to watch you put your special hand-made Ian ornaments on your own special tree.  Yes, I have a small tree by the front door for all of the ornaments you've made at school.  It's really cute and very special.

So there you have it.  We're working hard to fill our house and hearts with the Christmas spirit.  Each memory is special, and I hope that one day you will remember the fun we're now having.

Smooches, Christmas Bear,