Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

I have some amazing Jewish ancestors with heroic and gruesome stories to tell. And, although I am not religious, it being Hanukkah is the perfect time to share.

Both my father's grandparents were able to escape Poland and the Hungry before things escalated and the World Wars began. They were in the United States by 1914, well away from the Nazis and Germany.
But quickly things turned scary and then terrible for the Jews in Europe. The only way they could immigrate to the United States was to be sponsored by a US citizen. Thousands of refuges were being turned away every year.

But my great-grandparents sponsored them, as many as they could find, as many as needed help. At the end of my Great-Grandfather's life, they had sponsored over 50 European Jews to start a new life here in the US.

These new immigrants had witnessed struggles beyond comprehension, many had lost family members to murder, so had been in concentration camps, others had run from Nazis, seeing their entire family shot beside them.

Horrific and terrible, and yet they all came to the United States looking for a new life, a new start.

Happy Hanukkah. Let love conquer all.

More detailed stories of these amazing people can be found on this old post, still one of my favorites.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bunny update

Over a month ago I wrote how frustrated I'd become with Juliet. She was/is hard. The beginning of November might have been the most "spirited" I've ever seen her. She was mad at life, mad at me, and mad that she didn't have her binky anymore, and hence wouldn't nap.

But since November life has moved along. She has been binky free for two and a half months. And it is joyous! She still doesn't nap, but bedtime has moved earlier and she's adjusted. She still has quiet time, and quiet time is mostly "quiet" without her tearing apart her room. And her overbite I was worried about (from her binky) has adjusted so quickly! It's nearly gone.

She's still stubborn as hell, and feisty, and hitting more than we'd like, but she's over the hump. She's sweet and funny and a joy to be with most of the time.

And today she napped. It was miraculous. I had no idea she even ever laid down or relaxed during quiet time, but today she did both long enough to fall asleep.
I finally woke her an hour and a half later because she can be difficult at bedtime, and seeing her blink her little eyes, and stretch was heavenly.

And then she came into the living room and sat in the southern sun, waiting to wake up fully. She looked so beautiful and peaceful, I grabbed my camera.

What a joy this girl is. I simply adore her.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice! It's winter!

Rejoice! Winter finally arrived!
After the entire month being mild and in the high 50s, it hardly felt like Christmas was coming, but this weekend the weather finally turned. There was only a dusting of snow in the valley (which quickly melted) but there was a bit of fresh powder in the mountains.
Both kids were so excited to go sledding!
Last year this snow bunny wanted NOTHING to do with winter and the snow. This year she was loving it, and played the entire two hours and didn't want to leave when it was time to head home. Rejoice is right!
This photo that I snapped as these two zoomed by me is my new favorite.
Lots of powder means a face full of snow. This bunny didn't seem to mind. We brushed her off and she was ready for more.
James used his snowball maker to make three snowballs and Juliet and I built and itty bitty snowman.
At the top of the sled hill the boys found something they were excited to show us girls.
A lean-to tree fort built in the woods! How fun.
Up and down, over and over.
When the adults were hungry (because the kids were begging to stay) we finally decided to drive down canyon in search for some food, we spotted this sweet Mama moose. She lay in the snow chewing on stems as we waved to her from across the road. Awesome day.

Christmas Windows at Grand America

December is full of all sorts of traditions that I love, and another tradition that I absolutely adore is visiting the Christmas windows at Grand America. There are about twenty windows all within the grand hotel to view each Christmas season. Plus there is a 14' real gingerbread house, the fountains and decorations, and the amazing toy shoppe to visit. Such a fun free activity.
This was the second time the kids and I have visited, E missed out two weeks ago because he was buying our family a new car (Hyundai Santa Fe)!

We really wanted to go back with Daddy, so when Saturday was dark and dreary, a visit seemed perfect. Juliet (above) shows that she is too cold to pose outside without her coat. Her faces kill me!

Inside James was the only one willing to stand near the extremely impressive gingerbread house.
These two were being very silly and happy (most the time). Lots of hugs and giggles.

The windows were all amazing. My favorites were the trains, and the fox in the village.
We've never bought candy in the toy shoppe, but just looking is a feast for the eyes!

I intentionally dressed her in this outfit, last year's Christmas dress and red sweater, because it is the same outfit she wore to visit the windows last year.
She's grown so much in a single year. Miss my baby, but LOVE this happy silly girl she's becoming.
Our favorite way to finish our Christmas window tradition is to visit the small French bakery inside the hotel and pick out a macaroon for each of us. They have the best macaroons around, and the tiramisu flavor was unreal this year. Fantastic! 
And although this photo is terribly blurry, I had to post. This is what I get almost every time when Juliet sees the camera pointed her direction. She hurries and poses, she always keeps us laughing! Her poses are all her own, no idea where she came up with these.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

St. Nicholas Day Tea

There are few traditions I like as much as St. Nicholas Day tea. St. Nicholas (the saint that Old Saint Nick is named after) celebrated his birthday on December 6th, hence St. Nicholas Day.

E's family has been hosting a tea on or near St. Nicholas Day for as long as I've known them (well over 15 years!) and its always is such fun. I love that it kicks off the holiday season right at the beginning of the month, I love that it is a light meal served nice and early so kids aren't out past their bedtime, but I mostly love the tea. A hot cup of tea and a tea sandwich (or ten!) with a table of good people, it is oh so fun.

The girls wore their matching flower girl dresses and James's sweater has been hanging in his closet for three years waiting until he was big enough. Yea! The day finally came!
Can you believe how much these three have grown since last year's tea? Amazing.
E always provides his famous homemade scones.
Heather's first time joining us!
Before we left I was admiring Juliet's beautiful curls (remember the buns from earlier in the day?) and wanted to get a few photos. She loves when the camera is on her, and always hams it up. She was being so silly I just kept snapping away.

Where she gets these faces I'm not quite sure. Such a ham!
Curls curls curls! And I'm afraid that once her hair grows out more and all the blonde ends are gone, the blonde will be gone for good. Look how much darker her hair is higher on her head! Natural ombre for sure.
And then when we went outside to get into the car she kept up the antics and I finally decided to just get a video of all her silly "poses". I've taken a few videos of her posing and tagged them #julietsbestposes if you'd like to take a look. Here's one session of her best poses:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

German Christmas Market

Saturday was busy in the most wonderful way. We had plans to meet E's family at This is the Place State Park in the morning and visit the German Christmas Market. I'd never been, but German toys and decorations are some of my favorites, plus the weather was so unseasonably warm that it was nice to be outside. Later we had plans to join E's family again for our annual St. Nicholas Tea! What a fun busy day.
The kids were somewhat impressed with the real reindeer.
Market with an amazing view. The outdoor market was just fine due to the mild weather.
The weather was so mild we actually enjoyed a picnic lunch on the lawn from one of the amazing food vendors. Not a snowflake in sight! (Actually is was close to 60 degrees!).
Tight little buns for curls later.
Looking extremely festive. My favorite color to dress her in is red, so all month long I try to dress her in as much red as possible. She looks like a Christmas elf all month long.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Ballet Mondays

Ever since September Juliet has been attending ballet on Monday mornings. We drop off James at school and then head over to the rec. center for ballet.

At first I thought there was no big deal with her being the youngest in class. She loved it. She listened well and enjoyed each class. When she stopped napping, however, she stopped enjoying class as much. Getting her there was a struggle ("I don't want to go! I worry about ballet class!") and I realized that her being the youngest was hard on her. Older kids understood more, could go faster, and do skills she won't master for a year or more.

I watched from outside the windows each class and smiled as she tried so hard to keep up with her much older classmates (many closer to James's age).

Today, the last day, parents were invited in, to see the class in action. She was seriously the cutest one in there, and tried so hard to do exactly as instructed. In hindsight I think she would have done better in this class closer to age four, but nevertheless, she was all smiles today.

Seeing her dance with her little friends was amazing. She knew all her positions, both arms and feet, and didn't cry when it was time to skip (her hardest skill).

I sat there in awe of my little girl. I smiled as she danced and hugged her after. I realized she's still little. She's too little for ballet right now, and that's ok. We will try again in a year, if she'd like.

Until then, I'll cherish her small-ness. I'm not sure who learned more, her, or me.

She dreaded the skipping portion of class. She tried so hard each week. Many weeks she was brought to tears because at two, she just wasn't yet able to skip. But each week she went back and tried again.

This cherub of mine, I am so proud of her. And so so in love.
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