Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's Eve!!!

As I scroll through the photos I have taken in the month of December, I can't believe it.  I went from hardly picking up my camera in November to shooting "overdrive".  I still have so many photos I want to share.  So I will be on a posting frenzy.  As is usually the case, I will be late with my "Year in Review" post.  I will probably get that up in the next week. For now, though, I want to back up to the weekend before Christmas.

Since it had been a few years since we attended Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party, we thought we would make time for it this year.  We arrived around 4:30 because we prefer to keep our visits short (it helps us keep our sanity as the evening progresses.)  We usually go to Tomorrow Land first. So we made our way to the People Mover.
Havi is in this phase where she is afraid of the pitch dark.  So she needed some cuddling during parts of the ride.  Next up was the Raceway.  Caleb was so thrilled to be tall enough to "ride alone".  He had been looking forward to that solo drive for....ever.
The sun was setting as we were in line and on the track. So I couldn't really capture any decent photos.  But since there was a bit of a back up, I thought I would try to snap a photo of me with my precious shotgun rider.
Then we decided to grab dinner before the dinner crowd had the same idea.  After filling up, we headed over to Carousel of Progress...only to find out we were 5 minutes too late, as the ride had just closed for the evening.  Boo! The dumplings were singing the theme song all week long. So they were a bit disappointed we just missed it.  We decided to head over to Fantasy Land to ride the Barnstormer.
We were so thrilled that the wait time said 5 minutes.  Madeline and I ran all the way to the top and walked right on the roller coaster.  No waiting!!!  We had so much fun, we ran all the way down as we exited the ride so we could do it again!  This time, we had to wait once just so we could ride in the front row.  It was worth it!  The front row was a blast!  Good call Madeline!

Then we scooted on over to Ariel's Grotto.  Poor little Havi was upset with the dark.  But she managed to settle down a bit and enjoy the ride some.  Then I rode the carousel with both Caleb and Madeline.  
After the carousel, we grabbed some hot chocolate and sugar cookies.  Then we thought we'd head over to Pirates of the Carribean before the parade....only it, too, was also closed for the evening.  Poor Caleb was looking forward to it.  What a bummer.  Well, we decided to wait for the parade, and we're glad we did.  Havi insisted we go "home now".  Being at Disney in the dark was just too much for her.  At the start of the parade, she didn't even watch.  She just played with my phone.  Then Patrick held her, and she actually began to enjoy it.  We were so thankful for the turn around.
We headed home once the parade was over, and all three dumplings promptly fell asleep once we began driving.  It was a fun night and cold enough toward the end of the evening to enjoy hot chocolate, which hasn't been the case much of December.

So now that I'm caught up with sharing all that happened before Christmas, I will have to share our post-Christmas Christmas celebrations...yes, you read that right...plural.  We partied for three more days, in fact! lol  Stay tuned...

Our Christmas festivities...mostly

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing and joy-filled Christmas.  I know we did!

In an effort to play catch up and do a better job sharing on the blog, I figured I should get crackin' on all the Christmas festivity photos that were begging to be edited.  I'll start with Christmas Eve.  We attended our church's 2pm service.  So after lunch, we headed out.
 I know you might be thinking the above photo is more appropriate for an Easter service.  Well, we don't always go with "traditional" around here.  So it works for us.  But the good news is, the girls can certainly wear their dresses again, for Easter. lol

After church, we came home and started working on dinner.  We have started a tradition of eating lobster on Christmas Eve.  To this we added some Alaskan king crab legs (Caleb tried them a few weeks ago and LOVED them), and I also made some potato latkes.  It was so delicious.

We have been working our way through Ann Voskamp's book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, which we love. So we read another passage.  And then the dumplings each opened up a "group" gift for them to enjoy together. And then Caleb and Madeline each opened up a special Willow Tree figure.
 Then it was time for lights out and a quick snap of the tree with all the presents underneath.  This is not a Pinterest-worthy presents-under-the-tree photo.  Nope.  The wrapping paper isn't all coordinated.  Not every present has a bow, or a tag for that matter.  But under the tree is love and thoughtfulness wrapped up in a variety of gifts from lots of different people.

Much to our surprise Christmas morning, Caleb didn't wake up till 6:45am.  (Havi had been up for a bit with Patrick.)  So we had him go wake up Madeline.  We poured our coffee, and I took the cinnamon rolls I was proofing overnight out of the fridge.  We read the last passage in Ann Voskamp's book and then proceeded to open gifts.  We gave each of them just three gifts, with one big group gift for all of them.  The rest of the gifts they received from extended family.

In taking pictures, I opted to focus solely on capturing  the dumpling's expressions.  I cared little about composition or technique that morning.
 They started off with their stockings.
 A New York Yankee pillow pet
 Peppa Pig figures for Havi, which she loves
 Roller skates for Havi
 A pink tennis backpack for Madeline
 A microscope for Caleb
 The new WiiU for all of them
 A much needed phone for Caleb.  His intense tennis training schedule necessitated it.
 And then Caleb and Madeline's last gifts could not be wrapped.  So we placed them in the kid's playroom and threw some sheets over them in case they went wandering away from the tree and toward the kitchen, which Madeline did.  Thankfully, though, the surprise was not ruined. Havi was so cute covering her eyes also.

 A vanity for Madeline and a bike (that now fits) for Caleb
While I captured a lot of presents being opened, there was one in particular that I missed because I, myself, was wrapped up in its unveiling.  My mother-in-law painted a beautiful picture of Madeline wearing her dance recital costume from this year.  As soon as we safely removed it from its packing, Patrick quickly whisked it away to Madeline's room to keep it safe from all the hustle and bustle.   Well, that meant not getting a photo of it.  Boo.  I will have to do that.

So after presents were opened, we ate breakfast- those cinnamon rolls I alluded to earlier.  Then the dumplings played while Patrick and I began working on dinner- lasagna!  He made the meat sauce while I made the ricotta cheese and lasagna sheets.  Once I got all the sheets cut, we headed out for a bike ride.  We just go around the neighborhood, but the path we take makes for about a 40-45 minute ride.  That's enough to put Havi to sleep on the back of Patrick's bike. lol  Anyway, once we got back, Patrick and I got to work layering the lasagna sheets with the sauce and cheese.  We made a great team.  And the lasagana....woah! It was so delicious.  Homemade everything just makes all the difference.  Seriously.   

The only thing I would do differently next year is make the cheese and lasagna sheets ahead of time.  I didn't think it would take too much time, but it definitely kept me in the kitchen instead of photographing the kids playing with their new toys, like I usually do.  So that part bummed me out.  Lesson learned.

Well, the cooking, baking, and Christmas celebrating has continued through this weekend because my sister and her peeps came into town yesterday.  Andy had a gig with his band Elevators Friday night.  So their typical visit on Christmas Day was delayed.  Anyway, we have already done some serious eating, and we're only half way through the weekend! lol  If you've followed this post all the way to the end, then I'll be sure to send you some of Jesus's birthday cake. ;)

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

May your holidays be blessed!

Here is our Christmas card for this year..the front
...and the back.

I thought I'd also include a few shots that didn't make the cut.  For kicks, I had the dumplings do a jumping shot.  They had a lot of fun doing it, even if they couldn't quite get their jumps timed right.

Well, I know I haven't been the best at blogging these days.  That kind of bums me out.  Unlike November, I picked up my camera a bit more in December.  I just haven't had the time to share those photos here.  I still plan to share some of them...like our recent trip to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party.  This last week of December will be very busy, with sharing Christmas and my year in review (which just might include more than a handful of photos I haven't had the chance to share on the blog yet lol).

Anyway... enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!!

Winter recital

Friday, December 12, 2014

This year the dance studio Madeline attends decided to include the Children's Program in with their larger Winter recital.  Instead of wearing decorated t-shirts over their leotards and performing at the studio, they wore costumes and joined some of the older girls at a local school.  To say that she was excited would be an understatement.  
 Her class performed a ballet number to "Let It Snow".  She also performed in an opening scene with a few of the older girls and then helped out with their props.

Caleb was gracious enough to use my phone to capture a video of the performance.  (Madeline is second from the left. Also, please ignore my camera clicking away in the background. lol)

Of course she loved receiving flowers after her performance, and the fancy dinner on the water that followed wasn't bad either.  

We love you Madeline!  You are a joy to watch. :)

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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