Thursday, December 30, 2010

Freezin's Greetings!

Since Daddy had the day off, we took off on a snow hunt. There was plenty to be found at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort! A storm blew through yesterday, so there was lots of powdery snow. Not great for snowball fights, but perfect for playing in and intertubing!

As soon as they had their boots on, the boys were climbing a hill of snow. Downers that their folks are, they had to come back to the truck to get their coats on. As soon as they were zipped up, they were in the snow again. Once the slowpokes were ready, we headed over to the intertube run.

The line moved quite slow, so we took our places while Dad got the tickets. We barely moved, and the princess was not impressed with standing and watching the snow, but not being able to run about. While we waited, she tried the intertube merry-go-round...and wasn't at all impressed by how cold her 'diaper' got. Once she calmed down I asked if her diaper was wet, and she said no, not anymore. Which cracked me up. It really is time to potty train when a the kid thinks her butt is a diaper!

The boys said the day was perfect (Bayley) and the best day ever (Hayden). Grace and I spent most of our time in the car, since she was done with snow. So...this winter, all snow trips will be boys only!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Boxing Day

Another chance for a party at Auntie Kim's! Bayley went for the cookies, Hayden for the seemingly unlimited supply of Moose Munch, and Grace...I think she wanted to abscond with Nicky's new toys!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner

After a day of playing with the Santa loot, we headed out to Grandma & Grandpa's for dinner. Where the kids got more stuff!

Bayley was thrilled to get the Jedi Mind Trainer he wanted, Hayden thought getting a DS game from Uncle Tim was the best thing ever, and Grace finally got her pillow pet.

Then it was time for lounging about and enjoying the sparkle of the tree.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

Eight thirty. They slept until eight thirty! In Mamaland, that is totally brag-worthy! Hayden was up first, so we let him unload his stocking since Santa doesn't wrap everything in there. He immediately figured out Santa's wrapping paper code, and started to scout out the gifts under the tree....and the Bakugan bonanza the elves didn't wrap.

Once Grace was up, we let him rouse Bayley while the girl got a fresh diaper. Here's to potty training in 2011!

But, back to the good stuff. Hayden's Santa doubts vanished as soon as he realized he had gifts under the tree. He swiftly decided Santa rewarded him for not having to sign the clipboard at school, and didn't forget him because he's been having naughty behaviors. He then explained that he thinks he may be a Sith to Bayley's Jedi, and that the anger of being evil is making him do naughty things. Yeah. It won't hold up in Mommy court, but that's a battle for another day.

Grace was hot and cold with her gifts...the beads, color stacker and lacing boards were great but the tea set she could have done without. We're hoping that after naps she decides the tea pouring sound isn't so troubling.

Bayley seemed happy with his haul, but Hayden noticed that Santa did not bring him any DS games. Ignoring that he got 2 Wii games, he started to have a snit. But, I explained that I told Santa that until he pays me back for the DS game he bought THIS SUMMER, he can't have any new ones. His response? That's OK, I think I talked Uncle Tim into getting me one.

While the boys were building their mini-lightsabers, we baked cinnamon rolls and bacon. We found some amazing pears at Costco and voila...Christmas breakfast!

Swedish Christmas Eve

Every year Jeff's extended family gathers for a traditional Swedish Christmas dinner - Swedish meatballs, Rut-mus (mashed potatoes and rutabegas), corn pudding, rice pudding, rye bread, cardamom bread...and the American additions of green bean casserole and pink jello whip.

This year, we all gathered at Uncle Bob & Aunt Mary's. The kids love it there because they've kept most of their kid toy in the basement. As soon as they get through the hello's, they're down the stairs searching for the giant Lego tub. This is the first year that their cousin Sean decided he's too old for Legos. But, 13 is not too old to get bored with adults, so he did go downstairs and try to keep the boys from getting too wild.

Hayden was proud to show off his cookie baking skills - and get rewarded with a dozen EZ Bake mixes from Aunt Sunny! Grace was delighted by more dress up clothes for her stash and a Baby Alive doll. Now...this doll seemed quite, well, intense for the adults. But Grace was enthralled with feeding the baby. In fact, she woke up Christmas morning, grabbed the disappearing juice sippy cup and said "Time to feed my baby!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Uncle Gabe Box

When a large box was delivered to the door, the boys knew just what it was - presents from Uncle Gabe!

They dove right into their new stash. Hayden called dibs on the football, Bayley on the walkie-talkies. Grace wasn't sure what to make of Boots the monkey in baby form! (Natalie's gifts seemed better to her, so they're hiding in my office.

The box also had random Duck the boys tossed aside their gifts to start playing with it. They couldn't understand why the shirts were so small...or whether the giant webbed feet were foam fingers or slippers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snowman Calendar

Instead of three waxy chocolate filled advent calendars, we had a snowman calendar. With 25 pockets, he had plenty of activities in store for us during December.

Some things - like decorating the Christmas tree and mailing holiday cards - made things easier on us all. Next year, we're going to put 'hang holiday lights' on the calendar since we didn't get around to it.

Some ideas flopped. Hayden decided he was afraid of the dark for two weeks (thanks to a movie)...and so we had to light up halfway through the candlelight dinner and the candlight bubble bath was candleless.

Some ideas were improved upon. Instead of buying a gingerbread house kit (that we always toss later) we made houses from graham crackers and leftover halloween candy. HUGE hit with the boys. The calendar suggested Happy Meals and a drive to look at holiday lights, but we stepped it up and made that Zoo Lights, out to dinner, and a drive through the neighborhood lights. Much better.

Some things were simple - hot chocolate, cinnamon rolls, write letters to Santa, make snowflakes, read holiday books, pizza night, game night, movie night with popcorn, holiday movie with caramel corn, make cookies, and open one present.

Other things I hope become traditions and cherished memories - making reindeer food, sleeping under the Christmas tree...

I think I'll collect a few more ideas before the snowman goes up on the wall again next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Today's Santa calendar activity was getting Happy Meals and driving around to look at the lights. The boys were looking forward to it...but then I realized this might be our only chance to do ZooLights. We missed them last year because of the snow, so I wanted to make sure to get them in. We compromised with the boys -- ZooLights, out to dinner, look at lights on our way home. Everyone made out better in this deal.

We thought we were slick by getting to the zoo by 5...but there was a sea of people slicker than us. This wasn't our first rodeo, so we got tickets at the gate and headed for the train. The line for the 15 minute train ride wasn't too bad...just over 30 minutes. But by the time we got off the train? We guessed it would take almost 2 hours to get through.

The train ride around the zoo is worth the wait. The kids really enjoy it. We managed to get a double seat car all to ourselves, which gave Grace lots of room to roam. She really seemed to enjoy it, and the boys didn't want to miss a thing. They kept yelling things like "elephants off the starboard bow" or "bats on the port side". I think they may have watched too much Deadliest Catch last season.
As usual, Hayden accosted every mascot-type we came across. Not a lion or bear or cow was spared. I we have a future Puddles in the family?

Breakfast with Santa

The Burke clan met up with the Busy Bee Bunch for breakfast with the world's tallest Santa Claus! No joke, Miss Kris & Miss Helen Barely made it to Santa's chest! It was a seven foot tall Santa! But, that made my big boys seem just the right size to be sitting on Santa's lap.

Bayley made sure to keep it simple for Santa - boy DS games, and anything Star Wars. Hayden...decided he does not believe in Santa. He figures, it's probably just mom & dad anyway. and he decided to tell this to our friends' five-year-old. Luckily, she told him to watch himself, or he'd wind up with coal.

Jingle the Elf was there making balloon animals for all the kiddos. What did the boys opt for? swords. In Jedi colors of course. And then a sword fight broke out with some of the other kiddos. Between impromptu balloon fencing and Santa belief killing...I'm not sure we'll be invited back next year!

One of my personal highlights was a pic of the Busy Bee alum with Santa. It always warms my heart to see these kids still friends.

Grace was not interested in Santa or his elves. She did manage to ask Santa for candy...and got a candy cane for her efforts. Maybe next year she'll be ready for it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

Finally, the advent Santa said it was time to decorate the tree. Daddy strung up the lights and the kiddos put the ornaments on. I think they did a pretty good job.

I took the picture of the tree with the lights on at night...and the red and orange lights make the tree look like it has brown splotches! Rest assured, the kiddos have a GREEN tree.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Brunch with the Bayley Bunch!

The family all trekked to Uncle Matt & Aunt Courtney's...because she promised monkey bread and a fritatta situation. She knows how we roll, it's all about the food. I think Bayley ate half of the walnut-free monkey bread...and I am not sure there was a single piece of either left for Matt's afternoon snacking. Sorry Uncle Matty!

Good eats aside, we all had a great time relaxing on their comfy sofas and watching the show. The boys put on a few of their now famous skits, but I think the highlight of the morning was Hayden's Bop-It game. It's this strange electronic device that tells you what to do. Now, no one listens when I tell them what to do, but maybe if I do it in an electronic voice?

Grace loved the Christmas tree most of all. As soon as she saw it, she was dancing around and sharing her excitement with everyone. Hayden could not wait to open presents (which made his Bop It discovery all the more important. Bayley got a book he's been waiting two months to read...but I think the monkey bread was his highlight.

I can't wait for next year. Natalie will be walking...and I will make sure her gift arrives in time to bring it to the event!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


I love Hanukkah for so many reasons. Yes, latkes and jelly doughnuts play a role. But the best part is that it lasts for so long. Each night at dinner we light the candles and after dinner the kids get a gift. None of the gifts have a huge wow factor, but they don't need to. When they only get one a day, they enjoy the one they have!

This year, we let the boys light the candles. Next year, in order to earn the priviledge they'll have to say the prayer too. Which probably means I'll need to say the prayer in Hebrew instead of simply leaning on the English. Or not...

I hate how some toys get tossed aside for others in the Christmas morning free-for-all, so it's such a blessing to be able to give things to the kids slowly, and watch the thrill of play shoes or see every action figure get played with.

We made some great finds this year - like Sesame Dounuts sells donut holes for a $1 a dozen at the library. And next year I think we'll try having the boys help with the latkes and teaching Grace to play dreidle. Right now, she'd see the pile of m&m's and think THAT was her gift!

Monday, December 06, 2010


Hayden made a chocolate cream pie today.

Graham Cracker Houses

Our advent activity was supposed to be gingerbread houses...but I didn't want to go to the store to buy the boys made them out of graham crackers and their leftover Halloween candy. BRILLIANT! They had the best time.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent Activities

Instead of having chocolate in the Advent calendar, I decided to put in an activity each day. Some of them are easy (reading holiday books) and some are having the boys help me with the holiday cards. Yes...we did them. Shocker, I know. We haven't sent out anything en masse since Grace's birth announcements. I never did get around to doing change of address cards.

Friday, December 03, 2010


The kids got a family game for Hanukkah tonight -- JENGA! We had a hilarious time playing a couple of rounds...and then a neverending round where Bayley used his skills with the Force. Eventually...I knocked the tower over. But it was wicked high by then!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

The first night of Chanukah was candle free...since the menorah was 12-feet above the garage in a box! I'll brave the six foot ladder, but the giant one is beyond my scope of talent. We celebrated with a family game night... which quickly progressed to a Mario Cart battle challenge. Grace played with an empty Wii Wheel for a while, and then we brought out the big guns to keep her entertained -- marbles! Bayley loved the marble tower in kindergarten so much, we got one for him. It was a brilliant idea, since the kids are STILL using it!

According to the Santa advent calendar...tonight will be a candlelit dinner!