Friday, December 30, 2011

Eva's 2nd Christmas

There was much anticipation for Christmas this year, but mostly on my end. Starting in early November, I was pretty excited to find Evalee some toys that would make her eyes on shine on Christmas morning. I made lists; I read reviews; I searched toy catalogs; I did everything I could to choose just the right things to put under the tree. And I had a blast. This year was the first year she had definite interests and preferences, so it was exciting to consider her personality and find things that I knew she would love. Last year was more of a guessing game. So, in that spirit the Christmas music and even a couple Christmas movies found their way out of their boxes before that day after Thanksgiving deadline. Next year I'm going to try really hard to stick with my rule, but we'll see how it goes.

Christmas began on Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma was a little worried when Grandpa had mentioned the night before that he had "some shopping to do" and wasn't sure when he'd be home, but thankfully he showed his true manly spirit by buying the gifts he needed and washing his car before 11:30 a.m. We had a very nice dinner on Great-Grandma Evelyn's plates for the very last time in Grandma and Grandpa's current dining room (God-willing). When most of the dishes were done and things settled down, we gathered around the tree for presents. Evalee was pretty interested in tearing open her packages right from the start, but her nap loomed above her head and a couple presents in the tired set in. We elected to simply set her gifts aside and let her open them after her nap. We received lots of nice things -- Travis got some much needed new shoes and clothes and I got a stand mixer, among lots of other great things. Grandma also surprised us (sorta, haha) with another year's membership to one of our favorite places, the zoo. Eva can wave to the elephants for another summer to come. After her nap, Evalee opened the rest of her presents. She was very excited to see her Sesame Street bus from Uncle Eric, her Cinderella carriage from Grandma and Grandpa, and her princess pajamas from Grandma and Grandpa. In fact, she immediately put the pajama pants on over her jeans and proceeded to wear them for a good half hour.
Before we knew it, it was time for a quick leftover dinner and to get ready to go to the church service. Evalee wasn't too excited to put her big fluffy dress on, but she loved swishing it around once it was on. We sat right behind my cousin Abby and her family, so Eva was delighted to get to hug and pet little Drake once again. I'm sure he doesn't remember his stay with us back in the summer, but Eva sure didn't forget about the little cuddlebug. While Drake sat contented in his mother's lap in front of us, Eva was nothing but rambunctious through the whole program. She hopped from one lap to another, waving and calling, "Hiiiiiiii!!" to familiar faces behind us and trying to rally up impromptu carol singing, toting her heavy hymnal along with her. Although it did serve for some warm-hearted laughs around us, I'm hoping we have a bit more well-behaved 2 year old on our hands next year. Who knows, she may even find herself up on stage to sing by then!
After church it was a quick trip to Aunt Billie's to see all the familiar faces of her rough and rowdy Christmas Eve bunch at the bar. We stayed long enough for a drink and some laughs (and long enough for Eva to torture another baby with all her love pats) before heading out to get our little one to bed for Santa.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oh Niabi Zoo, we missed you.

Tonight we decided on the spur of the moment to go to the Light Up The Zoo event at Niabi. This is the first year they reopened for a week to visit the zoo all lit up for Christmas. We all bundled up and set off to wish all the animals a Merry Christmas. Obviously many of the animals were not out to see the children at night in the middle of December, but some were and Evalee had a good time seeing them. We visited the elephants first, as usual. She very excitedly told the light up elephants stationed outside the elephant habitat "HIIII!" and then was even more excited to peek into the elephants' window and see them eating their dinner. She could have waved at them through that window for an hour. We also got to see the sleeping monkeys, the mama and baby giraffe, the swans, lots of birds and reptiles, and zebras. It was cold, obviously, but there wasn't a wind and it was wonderful to be outside for a while and moving around. The carousel was running for Christmas, which was very The Catcher in the Rye-esque, so we couldn't resist a ride. In fact, Evalee bolted for the carousel the minute it was in sight. She chose a rooster to ride this time and spent her whole ride laughing and saying "buck buck buck" like a chicken. The moment spinning around the carousel with Christmas music playing, my baby girl's eyes filled with happiness and excitement, and my husband standing proudly by just may be my "Christmas" this year. Every year, it seems, I have a moment that, when I close my eyes and think of Christmas, it comes to mind. Last year's moment was on our couch: cuddled under a blanket with a sleepy Evalee with all the lights off but the Christmas tree and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The year before, it was a moment of solitude, sipping hot cocoa in the dark waiting for Travis to get home and listening to Christmas music over a cracky radio. I never know when it will hit me or what it will be that sparks it, but the feeling -- the moment of pure, absolute peace and happiness -- always feels the same.

Sleeping monkeys

All bundled up to see her friends

"Merry Christmas monkeys..."

This is the best we could do for a picture together.

Pure joy.

All those days, chasing down a daydream

One of the many, many perks Travis's job offers our family is the opportunity to get tickets to events around the area for $2. When the opportunity to take Evalee to Disney on Ice came up, it had to happen. We invited Grandma and together the four of us headed out to the iWireless Center for an afternoon of Disney Magic. Our seats were pretty great, but there really isn't a bad seat in the place. Evalee loved the exercise/dancing part at the beginning where the kids were encouraged to get out of their seats and dance around for a while. Then the show began. We got to see Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Snow White, Aladdin, The Lion King, Rapunzel and Flynn, and a few others that I can't think of at the moment. Hands down, her favorite part was definitely the Tangled segment. Unfortunately that segment was only one song long, but I'm not sure she even blinked the entire time Rapunzel and Flynn were skating. The ceiling was filled with floating lanterns and it was all very pretty. At the very end, all the princesses and princes came out, even the ones that weren't in the show, and waved to all the screaming and adoring little girls in the stands. It was pretty cool. As a souvenir, we even got a Princess banner to put in her room next to her Sesame Street live pennant. It was a fantastic afternoon.
She enjoyed joining in on all the applause.

Saying hi to the princesses before we left.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A-hunting we will go...

Today we went to Up North Pines our annual Parchert family Christmas tree hunt. This was our second year at the new lot, and we were again very pleased with the selection compared to our old place. Evalee had an absolute blast in the trees. You could hear her excitedly laughing and screaming from all corners. She loved the little trees that were smaller than her, and she loved to be chased and scared from around the corner. We settled on a tree after some debate and Evalee helped Daddy drag the tree back up to the parking lot. This has been a family tradition for my entire life -- every Sunday after Thanksgiving -- and I'm so happy to continue the tradition on with the next generation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How's the potty training going?

Kershaw family Thanksgiving

This weekend we got to go down to Williamsville for our Kershaw family Thanksgiving. As luck would have it, Travis had to work a night shift the Friday before, so we came down on Saturday morning. The kids got to play for a while as the food warmed up, and then we all got to sit down to a delicious dinner. Evalee wasn't really interested in eating. She had about 4 bites of mashed potatoes before heading back to continue on with what she was doing: cooking her baby on Alex's grill. We had an afternoon filled with playing, naps (for all three members of our family), and giggles.
Grandma wanted to go to the Festival of Trees, so once all the kids were up and ready we headed out. Eva wasn't sure what to think at first. We first stopped to see Santa, and she was not interested in talking to him at all. We walked around and saw all the pretty trees and the neat gingerbread houses, but all Eva was interested in mostly was a display with a Cinderella theme, complete with a life-sized mannequin dressed as Cinderella. We visited that display a few dozen times that night and even tried to join it a few times. For some reason, her shoes seemed to be bothering her, so she excited ran around the building in just her Elmo socks. There were Christmas ornament stickers on the ground, and she was so excited to step on each of them and follow the path they created around the exhibit. As Uncle Trevor said, "She is the most independent one-year-old I've ever seen." She never turned around to even check to see that we were following her. She was on a mission.

The other highlight of the night was the train ride. It was almost a disaster, as we sat down for the ride, Eva excited squealing "Choo! Choo!" only to realize we didn't have enough seats for everyone in our group. Eva didn't understand why we were getting up and was certainly displeased as she watched the ride chug ahead without her. She made the most pathetic "chooooo choooooo" noise as we stood in line and waited for our ride to come. The wait made the ride all the more sweeter, and she quietly whispered, "Wheeeee" through a smile throughout the entire ride.

We met Grandma and Papa for lunch at Chili's before heading back home on Sunday. Eva sat pretty well for the most part, mostly because of the chips and salsa at our table. There's nothing she loves more than an opportunity for some good chip/cracker dipping.She has good taste, in my opinion, as I firmly believe Chili's chips and salsa are a small slice of the heaven that awaits us.
Grandma and Amelia

"Why hello Santa. I can be polite as long as my mom is holding me."

"...but if you think I'm just going to sit here with this guy all by myself you're crazy."

"No. I won't even look at the camera. I'm that mad."

Alex was also not jazzed about the opportunity to chat with Saint Nick.

Amelia didn't understand what the big deal was.

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a mug shot glare at the camera.

Eva is calculating how she can still Alex's candy cane so she has one for each hand, the way she likes it.

Alex tried to put his arms around his girls for a photo. Eva's playing hard to get.

They really know how to take a photo.

Candy canes are such a distraction.

Waiting for the choo choo

She didn't want to blink and miss it.

So, she just didn't blink.

This house totally should have won the blue ribbon. Jelly Belly chimney stones? Frosting dots on the roof? Mysterious pine cone shaped candy trees? Perfect.

A little Rapunzel love

Even the Cat was there.

This is the face I envisioned for Santa Clause, not Cinderella.

Waving to Daddy on the train

Walkin' in a winter wonderland

I so wish this would have been in focus. <sigh>

Admiring trees with Uncle Trevor

Visiting Cinderella. Again.

Trying to smuggle Uncle Trevor under her sweater. He was underage for the gingerbread section.

Pretty girl

Amelia's practically drooling for Molly's hair

3 out of 4... not bad

being silly

She was anxious to hold Amelia, despite the fact that her face suggests she doesn't realize she is, in fact, holding Amelia.

Enjoying the attention she is receiving from holding Amelia

...but now she's done with her.