Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2017 | William's 1st Christmas!

I know that most of you are soooo over Christmas by now, and I promise, I’ve been meaning to finish this Christmas post for more than a few weeks… but life got in the way, as it tends to do. The Bean has returned to school and has jumped right into all her extracurricular activities, so she has us running around like crazy. We’re back to work and little man is teething, BIG time and has been really cranky for the first time in his life, while also deciding that he prefers to wake up 3-5 times a night! So, we’ve been hella busy and exhausted! I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is life as we know it now and as I told G this past weekend, let’s just anticipate that we’re going to be busy for the next 15-18 years, ha! This came following a conversation that sounded a little like this, G: “Do we have anything going on this weekend, or do we finally get to just relax?” K: “What do you think?!” – end of conversation. ;) Of course we have stuff to do, because we always have stuff to do. Thankfully, it’s usually relatively fun stuff – so that helps.

The entire month of December was a blur for me. The last week of November, I posted a video on Insta about how I had literally done nothing yet to prepare for Christmas, but was relieved that I still had a month to get stuff done – and then BAM, it’s Christmas Eve. For close to 10 years, I always took 2 weeks off during the holidays, which gave me all sorts of time to shop, bake, craft, clean for houseguests, volunteer in the community and prep for all our usual holiday activities. Then I changed jobs, going from 6 weeks of PTO, annually to only 3 weeks, which means I’ve had to be super proficient at managing my time. G helped a ton with planning what we, (I mean, Santa) got the kiddos this year and God bless her, because I had no idea what to get them. I’ve always been the one to plan our holiday festivities, pick our Christmas outfits, schedule Santa pictures, order Christmas cards and pick the big presents, but this year the wife was way into the spirit of things! I appreciate that she happily helped with so much because all in all, it ended up being the first Christmas in forever that I didn’t feel stressed and actually had time to relax and write! I consider it a bonus that Gracie and Will also managed to stay healthy and flu-free for the holidays, especially considering Grace has been sick for 3 of the past 6 Christmases. It was a Christmas miracle!

Christmas Eve | Baby Bro’s 1st Christmas Eve!

I was so excited to celebrate Gracie and Will’s first holiday as siblings, that I was absolutely giddy by the time Christmas Eve rolled around. G’s brother and his partner, uncle C, rotate holidays and were intown with us for Christmas this year! We always spend Christmas Eve with G’s family, as the night before Christmas was when her family did all their celebrating and opening of gifts when she was growing up. Is that weird to any of you? Because it’s weird to me! I’ve asked G, “what did your mom tell you about Santa since she gave you presents before he could deliver them on Christmas morning”? Her response was that they usually talked her mom into giving them all their gifts in the weeks leading up to Christmas and that they stopped believing in Santa at a very young age (which is so sad)! She said that by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, they would have already opened everything, so they would just hang out and eat together… Holidays for my family growing up could not have been more different and we celebrate Christmas with Gracie and Will pretty much the same way my siblings and I did as kids. We participate in all the fun festive stuff leading up to the big day. We bake and leave cookies out for Santa and carrots for his reindeer and the kiddos DO NOT get one single “Santa gift” until Christmas morning! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, people! ;)

Our Christmas Eve started with getting the kids all gussied up in their holiday outfits before heading to the movies to see Disney’s Coco. This was Will’s 2nd movie in a theater and he did great! The movie was adorable and between the extremely comfy reclining chairs, extra buttery popcorn and all the candy Gracie could ask for, everyone really enjoyed it! We then came home to open presents, play games and have family dinner at our house. G’s mom brought the cutest photo props, so those made for some pretty great pictures! She always thinks of the cutest little things.

Gaga, Papa and the uncles spoiled the kids beyond belief, as they do every year and they got us mamas some awesome presents too! Mostly though, we all just watched Will play with this one Mickey Mouse present that he adored. We could have watched him smile and laugh at that thing all night! Wifey’s a great cook and along with her mom, they prepared all the usual New Mexican must-have foods for Christmas Eve and we ate a ton. Once we finished up, cleaned and put the kids to bed, we got started on my absolute FAVORITE part of Christmas – setting up for Christmas morning! The Guncles spent the night so they could be there when the kiddos woke and kept us company as we set up Will’s “Pop ‘N Play Deluxe Ultimate Playard” complete with canopy and colorful balls to crawl through and Gracie’s Elena guitar and Disco Light-up Mic & Speaker Stand! Santa gifts are never wrapped in our house, but they do get a big sparkly red bow and oversized Christmas tags showing that they’re special gifts delivered from Santa himself! We also have a sack Santa fills with a few other small gifts from that year’s wish list.  

Christmas Day | Gracie & Will’s 1st Christmas together!

On Christmas morning, Will had us up before anyone else, even Gracie. We all somehow managed to fall back asleep, but were woken again 45 minutes later by a very excited little gal! We told her that she had to be patient while we woke her uncles and let the dogs out to potty, and even though we only left her waiting like 5 minutes, by the sounds of the excitement coming from the master bedroom you’d think she was waiting all morning! Grace came out holding Will with the biggest smile on her face, wearing their matching jammies and then practically tossed him to Georgia after turning the corner to see what was under the tree from Santa! She was the most excited for her guitar, but was equally excited with brother’s Pop ‘N Play, so both of them were in there in no time having fun. Like most babies, Sonnie Bear was more fixated on the bright wrapping paper than anything else and LOVED the stuffed buddies his sister made for him at Build-A-Bear! We intentionally only picked out a few little things for the baby, because we knew he was going to be spoiled by friends and family and I’m so glad we went that route, because both kiddos were spoiled beyond belief! We spent the remainder of the early morning having coffee with the Guncles while the kiddos played their little hearts out.

Every Christmas my mom hosts Christmas morning brunch for our immediate family and it’s my favorite family tradition. The rule is that everyone must show up in Christmas jammies, both kids and adults and you aren’t allowed to get all gussied up. We all bring breakfast dishes and enjoy mimosas while opening presents, before sitting down for a huge brunch together! This Christmas was extra special because it was my mom and stepdad’s first Christmas in their new home, which they were moving into the whole week leading up to Christmas morning. It was a mad house, but they managed to get most furniture in and the kitchen set up before the 25th and that’s all we needed for a yummy brunch!

Will hung out in his giant Jeep walker most of the morning and was just as happy as ever playing with the blue dinosaur his auntie Missy sent him from Vancouver, BC. Gracie and Mia LOVED this year’s matching Christmas jammies and brother even joined in on this tradition, that started in 2012 for Grace and M’s first Christmas! The 3 of them looked so adorable that my heart nearly melted. These girls – don’t they look so grown up in these pictures?! What happened to the little babies in the pink and red jammies?? How was this their 6th Christmas and how is it possible that they’re both half-finished with Kindergarten? Where did our baby girls go? Waaaaa…..  

Following our morning and afternoon at the new house with my side of the family, we returned to meet G’s fam back at our house for our traditional steak and lobster Christmas dinner! Baby boy got to finally take a stroll in the 4-in-1 Radio Flyer his Gaga and Papa gave him and Grace pushed him around the block until it was just too cold and we had to go in. Gracie also got to try out her new Magic Flying Fairy, which unfortunately malfunctioned and flew back to China (like seriously, it flew completely out of sight)! Her little heart was broken that the fairy Nani gave her flew to the moon, but thankfully Gaga got her one too, so she had a backup. It was hilarious for us adults watching that thing fly away, btw, LOL! We had to do everything we could to keep from laughing in front of our sad little gal.

If there’s one feeling that seemed to radiate through all month, it was love (said at the risk of sounding super cheesy). It just did! It was such a great first Christmas for our sweet boy, where he was loved on so very much and spoiled rotten. There are so many special holiday memories that I’m sure will live in my heart for years to come of our sweet babies celebrating their first Christmas as brother and sister. We LOVED having G’s brother and Chris here with us, making the days so much better as they are both just the most happy, positive and loving guys. And it was awesome to see my mom and K enjoy their first holiday in the dream house they’ve been putting every bit of their energy into these past 2 years. So many blessings. We’re a lucky bunch.

I’ll leave you with a video of my favorite 2017 holiday highlights! I hope you all had a Merry Everything this holiday season! 

To read about Sister Bear’s 1st Christmas back in 2012, click here. :)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Holiday Bucket List Wrap-up!

11 posts in a month’s time is something I haven’t accomplished since 2015! I credit doing a holiday bucket list for my motivation to write regularly again and I plan to do this every December going forward, because I’m actually writing! I love this blog. I really do. The blogging community has changed so much over these past 7+ years and I think that’s to be expected. Many of my favorite LGBTQ family bloggers have come and gone and while I miss following their lives, I get it. Sometimes you’re just done and it’s time to move on to something else. I honestly thought I would retire More Than Words last year when I wrote a whopping 18 posts all year long. Interestingly enough though, it wasn’t until I stopped blogging that I realized how much I need this space. I need to document our lives. I need to have something to do with the tons of pictures I take of my family. I need to read stories of other families who look like mine and I love being able to go back and re-read about our experiences – the good and the bad. I’ve made amazing friends here, in this space. I’ve survived infertility, in large part thanks to the support of the people found here. I’ve been inspired and laughed and cried, reading all your stories. So, as I get ready to begin my 8th year of blogging, I’m here to tell you – I’m going to make every effort to be present here this year and I’m sure I’ll be here the year after that. I’ve rediscovered my love of writing the past couple of months and I’m so happy about that, so I just thought I would share my feels. Now, moving on to our Holiday Bucket List Wrap-up…

Make Christmas Cookies | 4th Annual Cousins and Cookies Exchange
There are a few of our holiday traditions that I treasure the most and making cookies with our little loves is at the top of my list of favorites! Georgia and I started the tradition, along with my mom way back in 2007, just a year after G and I started dating. We wanted to do something fun with our 3 nephews during the holidays and because they weren’t into going to the Nutcracker or watching the local Christmas ballet, or really anything of that nature – we started a tradition that incorporated food. Because who doesn’t LOVE food, especially Christmas cookies!

We normally have our nephews, our niece and Gracie make cookies with us each December, but this year things were too crazy for that! My mom and stepdad just finished building their dream home complete with home gym, a music studio and 4-car garage (like, the house is crazy amazing), so they were moving-in these past 3 weeks. At the same time, my big bro and sister-in-law closed on the sale of their house and moved into my mom’s old house days following her move out with plans to stay there while they shop for their forever home. The entire family was busy packing boxes, packing u-hauls and moving furniture, so baking cookies was pretty low on the list of priorities. We decided that it would be most helpful to take my niece for the day and have her join us to bake while also freeing up their time to really get stuff done. It’s amazing what all you can accomplish shipping your 6-year-old off for the day!

The girls always have an absolute blast baking cookies together and with this being the first year that they could read the directions and do the measuring, it was like a whole new experience! They made cookies for Santa, cookies for their parents and decorated a gingerbread house! They also opened their annual matching Christmas jammies and this year, Will joined the pajama crew! They’re so stinkin’ cute!

Decorate a Gingerbread House | I have a secret to share…
Maybe it’s just been my experience, but making and decorating gingerbread houses with little ones is such a HUGE pain in the ass. It just is. First off, sugar frosting makes for crappy cement and never does the job of keeping the walls of your gingerbread house together. Unless you plan to let the frosting dry overnight before decorating (which, who seriously has the time or energy for that)?! What you end up with are walls that keep caving in on each other and kiddos having meltdowns, right and left. After last year’s gingerbread disaster, I decided I would only buy pre-built gingerbread houses from now on and guess what – it’s the best damn idea I’ve ever had.

The thing is, kids don’t want to build the damn house! They want to decorate it and then they want to eat it! It’s a bit pricier to go the pre-built route, but so worth the additional 2-3 dollars! I purchased one for the girls to decorate and they each decorated their own half of the house and had a blast! I divided the candy, gave each of them frosting to work with and let them have at it. There were no arguments. No meltdowns. No sudden loss of interest leaving me with a pile of graham cracker/frosting hot mess-ness. It was great and I 100% recommend doing this, to all you parents out there. You can thank me later!
Look how pretty!

Make a Christmas Wish List | The 1st Gracie’s Written Herself!
Grace’s been blowing our minds with her development these days! Well, we actually started seeing crazy changes in her development around 6 months ago, when she started kindergarten. Watching your kid learn to read and read to YOU, is the most amazing thing. Watching them read big words that you had no idea they could read, is incredible. Hearing them count to 140 when you didn't know they could count that far, is incredible. Hearing them talk about science and how things like clouds are formed, is just so rad! Basically, it’s all amazing and it leaves G and I bursting with pride, on the daily. We’ve decided to push our gal even more than before, because she’s showing us every day that she is dying to learn all the things! G just bought the Bean her first set of chapter books, “The World of Beverly Cleary Collection”, which has all those great stories about Ramona and Beezus! She’s already working her way through book one and is loving it! These days, she’s obsessed with writing letters to all our relatives and so we mail them out for her. She’s always painting or coloring or making things, which you know pulls at my crafty mama heartstrings! I just love every bit of what I’m seeing.

For the first Christmas ever, our big girl wrote her very own Christmas list! She did it in like 5 minutes, while driving in the car and only needed a little help with spelling (she spelled Play-Doh by sounding it out, which in itself was pretty darn impressive, and the fact that two of her numbers were written backwards just added to the cuteness! For Christmas this year, she asked for: 1. Orbees Spa 2. An Elena Guitar 3. Sleeping Beauty stuff and 4. Play-Doh! She helped write out all the gift tags for us throughout the month and she did great! I’m so looking forward to what the 2nd half of the school year brings. :)
* Host a Family Cookie Exchange – Check!
* Make Christmas cookies – Check!
* Make a Christmas wish list – Check!
* Decorate a Gingerbread House – Check!

I can’t believe that it’s officially 2018! For New Year’s Eve, we had a sitter so the wife and I took her new Lightsaber Chop Sticks out for sushi and then went to watch the new Star Wars movie (which was amazing btw). We basically had the geekiest NYE ever, but that’s ok. I knew what I was getting into when I married a nerd and happy wife = happy life!   

* Happy New Year, Friends *

22 of 23 things checked off our Holiday Bucket List. Not bad for the first year!
* * *
2017 // Holiday Bucket List
* Take brother to meet Santa for the 1st time!
* Make homemade ornaments
* Get matching Christmas jammies
* Hang Christmas lights
* Attend the Old Town Holiday Shop & Stroll
* Decorate the Christmas tree
* Make a Christmas wish list
* Go watch Sister Bear in her school’s Holiday Concert
* Go to the movies (preferably a Christmas movie)
* Make Christmas cookies
* Select a baby Christmas tree for little bro
* Have a holiday date night
* Fill a sack of toys to donate to kiddos in need
* Take a drive to see Christmas lights
* Find the perfect Baby’s 1st Christmas Ornament
* Go to a holiday party
* Host a family cookie exchange
* Decorate Gracie’s bedroom Christmas tree
* Send out Christmas cards
* Visit the Botanical Garden River of Lights
* Welcome Twinkle Toes home for Christmas (our Elf on the Shelf)
* Make a gingerbread house
* Try a fun new Christmas cocktail
* Watch Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer

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