After the last Polar Express in 2015, I had said we’d probably be done with the Polar Express, but somehow the holiday spirit got a hold of me, and I decided to keep the kids up late, feed them a bunch of sugar and trap them aboard a train with us again. This year we were joined by our friends and their sons Jonathan and Joshua.
Matching PJs were a little less traditional. While on a girls trip to Niagara Falls, we found these adorable Yeti pajamas which I called Yeti Spaghetti at home (like the game). The kids wore them the whole season and loved them!
I also couldn’t help it and bought Yeti slippers. Too much holiday spirit, ha!
And, yes, I did get matching pajamas again this year. At least, matching bottoms. Look! A rare photo of me with the kids all smiles!
Jameson got to sing in the mircophone, and performed admirably. Everyone did the pajama parade, consumed cookies, and were thrilled seeing Santa. It still might not be our last year…
For Thanksgiving, Brian and I had to separate because we didn’t have a kennel spot for Luna. So I took the kiddos to my parents house, while Brian stayed home.
Brian was going to spend Thanksgiving with his parents but that ended up being pretty spotty because Luna got sick from eating a plant! He spent most of Thanksgiving Day driving back and forth trying to eat dinner at their house and check on Luna, which was unfortunate. Luckily she ended up being fine, but we have really had to watch this eater!
Instead of doing the rec center’s Christmas lights at Christmas this year, they started them early, so we went during our Thanksgiving visit and really got in the holiday spirit!
Yes, that is Coraline being read to by Grandpa from a Reader’s Digest magazine. She even requested the story again! Grandpa did a good job making up a story for her. She and Jameson adored Grandpa this visit. Jameson really started to get good at Wii Bowling, so much so that we set up our Wii at home later this winter.
Aunt Holly got a new dog named Artemis! So we got to meet her and experience her craziness. She’s not barking as much these days, but even then she was super well behaved with the children! Better even than miss Luna, who is always trying to get them to play with her.
We tried to get Coraline in a few outfits from my childhood. One birthday cape I’m hoping to get her in for her birthday! Coraline was less than thrilled with our fashion show, ha!
The kids and I had a good time, even though we had to be separated from daddy during this visit!
Similar to last year, we picked our pumpkins at the same farm where we did apple picking. We really got some giant pumpkins!
Both kids drew faces on the pumpkins for Brian to cut out (he was maybe less than thrilled about that, ha). The paper rings hanging from the porch were made by Jameson and hung there through the rest of the year!
We had moderately good helpers this year. Coraline gave up pretty early though Jameson wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty!
We spotted a woolly bear!
Coraline was pretty insistent on being Darth Vader this year, or a Storm Trooper so she could shoot bad guys (nobody really corrected this idea). So I got her a Darth Vader costume and Jameson wanted to be Kylo Ren, so I loved that I got to match the kids again this year!
Jameson would’ve trick or treated all night (as would Coraline, though she was utterly spent). Jameson kept wanting to go to just one more house!
Brian and I both got to attend their Halloween party at school, Jameson got to attend too since he didn’t have regular school that day, so that was a great experience to have them all there again. Jameson is looking pretty old these days though!
It was a fun holiday with the kids having even more fun as they get older. I got Brian to dress up with me for our neighborhood haunted party. I took the photos this year for the event, so I didn’t get to hang out with the kiddos, which made me feel a little sad, but I was happy to have the opportunity! Here’s my set up, from which I have learned a lot I can apply to future events or sets for my new business, Rosy Days Photography.
Easter this year was another gorgeous sunny day, despite being in late March. We managed to get dressed in time for church before the kids were able to find their eggs (though plenty were pointed out before we left).
When we got home, it was egg-seeking time!
This year, the Easter Bunny hid some eggs in the basement, too (but not outside like last year).
In their baskets this year were underwear, pez and gummy bears and a book as well as squishy caterpillars. Jameson had some little marble puzzles while Coraline got some socks, a shirt and stamps and stickers. They each got a craft as well: Jameson got some foldable little robots, since he loves making paper airplanes, and this was a hit. Coraline got a make your own bouncy ball kit which definitely required supervision for them both (Aunt Melissa got to do that), and pretend snow.
At Grandma and Poppa’s house later that day, we always enjoy an outdoor egg hunt. The kids had to wait for Aunt Melissa to come over before seeking, though!
Coraline kept opening her eggs and eating her candy rather than searching for more eggs. Meanwhile, Jameson, who is kind enough to share with his sister, was very seriously looking for as many eggs as he could.
After egg hunts and lunch, we played by the creek and daddy let Jameson into the creek for the first time with his new water shoes that he got in his Easter basket at Grandma and Poppa’s house. Jameson was concerned about getting his shorts wet, but thrilled to be walking around in the creek.
It was a great Easter, and warmer than last year. I was excited about Coraline’s last minute dress find. It was such a lovely spring color and she loved wearing it (always a plus).
We’ve never actually visited the Easter Bunny before, anywhere. Not a mall or park or anything other than our imaginations when we talk about the Easter Bunny after he’s hid eggs around the house. But this year there was a free activity put on by a local nature center which involved a craft too that we thought would be fun.
The Easter Bunny concerned Coraline a bit, who also turned out to be coming down with a fever we found out later. But she gave him a high five! And Jameson got right in there, he was fine with it.
Before the Easter Bunny’s arrival, we did a bunny craft and made ears and a tail! Jameson cut the ears out all by himself, and Coraline was great at cutting outside the lines, so I gave her some assistance. She would’ve continued to cut the scraps of paper all day if we let her.
Jameson also got to do the bunny hop dance outside, though he said he struggled to keep up because his ears kept falling off! The Easter Bunny brought carrots and celery, and Coraline was really into the celery. The kids even shared a second bag of the vegetables with ranch. There were yummy chocolate cupcakes, too. It was a fun, cute time!
We celebrated with our usual family friends, and spent the night there again this year. It was a blast! We’ve been over a couple times since, and Coraline keeps asking about sleeping over. It was a huge success to have her sleeping in a sleeping bag, albeit on a cot.
Instead of Christmas gifts, we exchanged books this year. Coraline was in love with her Daniel Tiger Nutcracker book, and it was perfect because she has started ballet at school, now that she is in a preschool room.
Jameson is still in to paper airplanes and tried showing Jonathan how to fold them.
Meanwhile, Coraline literally ate almost the entire evening.
We tried to get photos of the kids in front of the tree, but you can guess how this ended:
Lisa got a selfie stick so we did take some photos including us adults, and the boys tried it out too.
The kids rang in the New Year with noiseless party favors, and watched a countdown with the Care Bears. We don’t have the kids stay up til midnight with us yet. Someday soon I’m sure they’ll catch on.
The boys all slept in Jonathan’s room, while Coraline slept with Brian and I. I think she was a bit jealous because she insisted on coming back out of her room just to hear the bedtime story. She didn’t really understand why she couldn’t sleep in there but she was amiable enough since she was so tired, I’m sure. Meanwhile, the adults rang in the new year with a game of Cards Against Humanity. It was a good night!
Jameson got his wish for a Bumblebee and Optimus Transformer. These 3-step transformers are good for his age, Santa made a good choice. Santa also brought a Star Wars shirt and socks, and a book of Frog and Toad stories, which will be perfect as Jameson starts learning to read. Jameson requested additional items later, such as a Hulk costume and Ipad, but some of those wishes mom and dad made come true.
Coraline, after much back and forth, did request a doll for Christmas to Santa and tried to change her mind later. She did end up getting a special doll that has eyes that close along with hair to brush, a beautiful 16″ doll she seems to have named Dolly (also, Alligator and a line from a Christmas song, and anything that came to mind first after being asked what the doll’s name was). She got a doll high chair too, a bonus gift that went outside Santa’s usual “one toy” rule but since they went together, he had some flexibility. She also got a Frozen shirt and socks (we promptly lost one of the socks), and a book of Berenstain Bears stories.
Before opening stockings, Coraline said she needed to take a nap and went upstairs. She came downstairs not long afterwards half dressed with one sock on. She fed her new dolly and did open her stocking after some prompting. Jameson meanwhile was exuberant and excited and really into everything he got. He initially tried to line up all the gifts for everyone in a row to give out, but we told him to start opening by type of wrapping paper: the black ones with the white ribbon were his, and the green ones, etc.
Brian got me a new iPad, so Jameson inadvertently got his wish, since he now gets to use my old one. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t get to use it whenever he wants, haha.
I think that Jameson’s favorite gift, based on how much he’s used it, is his bow and arrow set. We also got him a keyboard to be able to practice piano at home. Coraline got a set of piggies and Calico Critter house which were my favorite, but Coraline I think really does like her doll best, which now sleeps with her.
Brian got a DIY mustard kit (I always get him a food related DIY thing, though I’m starting to run out of ideas), along with some other items he asked for. I also got us a new floor lounger (“Husband” pillow), which was hard to find. They really don’t make these for normal sized people anymore, most of what I found was really small! We really outdid ourselves this Christmas, and as always I was both happy to see the kids’ excitement and sad that the magic of the season was over.
Coraline still points out Christmas lights everywhere she sees them, since a few places have kept some up. She sometimes talks about Santa still, too. Christmas really made an impression on her this year. I said that this year was going to be the best yet, but I don’t know: this coming year may still top it!
Every year, we try to visit my side of the family before Christmas so we can celebrate both Christmas and December birthdays! Jameson, Aunt Holly, and Meemaw all have birthdays during December. Jameson had some gifts to open from his birthday when we arrived!
This giant box is a giant frisbee, he was very excited! It will be a fun spring.
One very cool gift we got from Aunt Holly and Uncle Tyler was the Disney Playmation. The Playmation game bridges the gap between super hero and real world experiences. You can put on Iron Man’s arm, and fight a host of good and bad guys through various missions. Jameson played it a lot while we visited, but hasn’t pulled it out much since: we have a lot of new toys to play with! But one thing great about this toy is that I think it will grow with him!
Another tradition is doing puzzles with Meemaw! Jameson loves to work on puzzles. We had a really challenging puzzle this year because I bought a custom one for Meemaw from a photo I took during our visit to Venice. The 1000 piece puzzle took us several days to complete. Meanwhile, the kids worked on bear and dog puzzles. Coraline was only so-so at “helping”, haha.
Uncle Tyler also visited this year, driving up with his pup Athena. We were able to all watch Holly graduate from college! Brian dropped me off at OSU on his way with the kids, and Meemaw, Uncle Tyler and I watched her get her diploma.
One warmer day that wasn’t rainy we were able to go to the playground. Jameson, Meemaw and Grampa played fetch with the dogs (and got super muddy), while Coraline and I played on the playground. She found a new little boy friend that made her laugh while we were there, and was a real trooper walking almost the entire way there and home. No strollers for us!
Then we celebrated Meemaw’s birthday (she opened her puzzle from us early so we could get started on it), and that evening, we also went to our local lights show, another annual tradition.
We celebrated Christmas officially the next day after all the birthday celebrations were complete! Kids opened gifts, and were delighted at all things. Ralphie the Elf even came down to join us at Meemaw and Grampa’s house before he had to fly home to the North Pole. Coraline got a huge set of Frozen figurines, and Jameson got a set of Star Wars ships. I love the photo of his lips making the “vroom” noises a starship makes.
We did go see the Star Wars movie with Jameson while we visited! Brian stayed home with Coraline while the rest of us went to see the movie. We had to encourage everyone to come, because we had a gift for dad that that would only make sense after seeing it. We got him the BB8 robot!
The remainder of the day, Jameson was excited to spend with Grampa playing with airplanes! Grampa made him one of light wood that they shot into the air with a rubber band. Airplanes with Grampa is one of the things Jameson really looks forward to!
Christmas Eve morning, I took the kids to a breakfast potluck at my old friend Tracy’s house. A group of friends and her family were all gathered there, and it was fun seeing everyone and their kiddos and dogs.
We left for home and arrived home with the light of the full moon.
For the third year, we visited the North Pole on the Polar Express train. This year, grandma joined us for the journey.
Our kids are getting bigger, and the seats seem to be getting smaller, but everyone had a wonderful time. We bought 5 seats but fit ourselves into the 4 seats together. We’re not certain we’ll do this again next year, but it’s been worth the time each year. Jameson asked when we were going to the North Pole again well in advance of our ride, since he had memories of our ride last year.
On the way to the North Pole, they read the story and give out cookies and hot chocolate. This year, they also got glow bracelets.
The “conductor” asked Coraline how old she was to see how many holes to punch in her ticket this year. She has been regularly declaring herself three years old even though she’s only two. Sometimes I forget that she’s two, too.
When we approach the North Pole, the lights go out and the adults move out of the way for the kids to peer out the windows. They see Santa go by, and Frosty, Olaf and Rudolf plus some elves.
Then, Santa boarded the train! Santa was wonderful this year. Santa told Jameson he needed to be a good big brother. The kids got a bell, which is their favorite part, and on the way back, we had the pajama parade and songs.
Jameson was really in his element singing. He is much less shy this year, and didn’t hesitate to belt out the songs he knew, so he got to help one of the elf ladies sing on the way back. Coraline, following his lead, was more than happy to meander around the train with him (and then without him if I hadn’t grabbed her).
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with Brian’s family, and got to see his cousin Gabrielle and her son Griffin again, which thrilled Jameson. Despite the age difference, Griffin is wonderful playing with Jameson and they had a great time!
Coraline was a little shy with them but warmed up pretty quick after some time with grandma and Aunt Melissa.
It’s been unseasonably warm so far this time of year, so the kids even got to play outside (sans coats!). Coraline cleaned up pine cones and Jameson played ball with Griffin before Thanksgiving dinner which consisted of turkey, grandma’s homemade cranberry relish, sweet potatoes with pecans this year, and fried cauliflower, among other wonderful tasty dishes.
Yes, this is Brian with a stick poking at Jameson with a sneaky smile on his face.
After dinner, we whipped out the pie we made for the occasion. We’ve really gotten into making our pumpkin pie from scratch, and this year we had a special pumpkin from the farmers market, which is supposed to be like a sugar pumpkin but lighter and fluffier. It did make an exceptional pie! The kids of course just wanted to eat the whipped cream!
For the rest of Thanksgiving weekend, we drove to visit Meemaw and Grandpa.
We had another pumpkin pie for this visit too, plus two more that Holly and my mom made, so we had three different ones to try. The verdict is that homemade pumpkin is better than canned. And the pecan topping we both made for our versions was amazing.
A quick trip, but one filled with shopping for Meemaw and I. It was fun, but short. But don’t worry Meemaw and Grandpa, we’re seeing you again soon!