With... well, lots. We took the boys to have their picture taken with Santa Claus at Johans this year. However, Isaiah refused to sit with Santa and, since Braylon copies everything his older brother does - good or bad, we really didn't get a "good" picture. The boys would not, despite all coercion tactics on our part, sit on his lap, so the best we could do was have them sit in his chair while he kneeled beside them. I was surprised by Braylon, actually, because for quite some time prior to this he would point out the front window constantly and say "ant-a" at the Santa on the front porch of our neighbour's house. He seemed truly fascinated. Though I guess in person Santa is not the same as he is when safe in the distance. Regardless, we got a few pics:
It's a good thing Caleb is too young to know better!
That night I had my "surprise" 30th birthday. Greg had tried very hard to keep it that way, but I am just too clever so I figured out what he was up to long before the night. Oh well, it was still nice of him anyhow! Most of my friends are now out of town, or couldn't come for various reasons, but it was still a good night... even if I did turn 30. I'm still trying to cope!
This is the cake he tried to hide in our cold room - along with chips and pop. Can't put anything past me, Greg!!
Soon after I caught up with some good old friends of mine who weren't able to make it out that night. Some of my high school friends and I still manage to get together at least annually - and usually with hubbies and kids, usually at Christmas time (though we girls vow to do it more often). We tried out the new Tony Roma's in London, and even though it was all-you-can-eat-rib-night (right, Aliesha?!?), we weren't there for the food. I really enjoy catching up with those gals, and even though we really don't see one another often enough, nor do we ever manage to find a time when everyone can make it, it's so great to find time to meet every now and then. Speaking of which, ladies, we're into January and if we plan to keep up with our resolution to make this a monthly affair, we'd better get on planning a night!!
Unfortunately I'm starting to get busy with skating commitments. We had our first competition this month (thankfully one we don't care that much about placing well in, we just like to get the routine out and feedback in response) and, come January, I'll be on the ice a lot. So hopefully I can make it out to a girls night if we manage to organize one!
Much of the rest of the month was devoted to Christmas things. I never did finish my Christmas cards, so I apologize if you didn't receive one this year (or if the one you did receive was late... or, better yet, an addition to last year's). We did do some baking and Christmas crafts with the boys. Isaiah and I attempted to make a gingerbread house (though we cheated and used a kit). I'm really not artistic in the least, so it looks very amateur-ish, but we'll get better! I'd like to get into the traditions my mom kept up with us as kids with my boys, like decorating gingerbread men and baking certain treats, but I'm busy enough managing my day with three boys! Greg said I have to stop baking, anyhow, since neither of us have lost any weight (obviously...)!
Here we are decorating the roof!
Mid-month we hit a low as Greg's Avo Olivia passed away. She was 99 years old, and had recently had a few strokes, so it was in a way expected but nonetheless sad. It was the first time we really had to explain death to Isaiah and answer some of his questions. At first he didn't want her to become an angel to protect him and watch over him, and he didn't understand why we were going to say goodbye to her (at the funeral) when she was already dead. But I don't like dodging these issues, nor do I use kiddie-made-up words with my children, so we dealt with as much as he needed to know.
Then we headed into our busy Christmas visits with family. We celebrated with my side early, on the weekend before Christmas. It allowed my dad and Carol to head to the cottage early, and my brother and sister-in-law to only need to make one trip this way over the holidays. My Christmases are quite small, as I've only one sibling, but still very nice. My grandma, unfortunately, doesn't come back home any more - she stays in Florida. I really wish she would, as my kids are only going to be this young for a short while and it's really what makes Christmas - to see the expression on their faces and the belief in Santa, the magic of Christmas. And I miss her for us too. I know traditions change, but I don't get to see her very often anymore. We did have a great visit with my dad and Carol, James, Leanne and my niece Juliana. My dad and Carol spoil the grandkids like mad, so we were opening presents for a good hour or two, no word of a lie. The boys were very happy with their presents - especially the Thomas table my brother built for their trains. But it's not about the presents, it's about spending time with family. So I was glad to be able to do so with every one this year!Here are the boys all dressed for dinner at my dad and Carol's house.
Isaiah (the pro now, with four Christmases under his belt) shows Braylon how to open his stocking!
Caleb and Juliana enjoy some floor time together!
Then we were off to my mom's for the Jaeger Christmas the following day. I always enjoy my mom's because it's enjoying the food I grew up with, and she keeps up with traditions I need to adopt with my kids (like the gingerbread men I mentioned before). She got the boys a wood kitchen from a store in Stratford, which they absolutely loved. It was the first gift they opened and they didn't want to bother unwrapping anything else!
The kids are really attached to my mom - Grandma Lina. She said she was sad to miss out on visiting time in a way because she was responsible for cooking, but she still managed to get a few squeezes in! My aunt Sue was there, which was nice, because we used to have strong traditions when it came to Christmas. We always had Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents and would have trifle for dessert. There would be an almond hidden in the trifle and whoever got the almond won a prize. Well, this year it took until the very last spoonful of trifle to find that almond! Good thing Greg and I bought the Wii so we can work out those extra calories!!
Christmas Eve tradition since I've been with Greg has been to spend the night with the Rebelo side. His family is pretty close, and all of his first cousins are close in age, so we all still manage to gather together. This year we had it at his cousin Nellie's house, which strayed from tradition in that we've always had it at his Tia Gloria's in the past. We didn't stay too late, though, since we wanted the boys to get to sleep before Santa made an appearance!
Here they are in the living room, waiting patiently to open presents. Isaiah really gets along well with the older cousins too, and they're good about letting him play with them. At Avo Olivia's funeral he wasn't sure about Andrew, Nellie's third son, since Andrew and Max were play fighting and he wanted to protect Max, but he had a thing for Andrew this night! Braylon was more cautious and reserved - he didn't stray too far from me all night.
Christmas morning was had at our house. The boys slept in from the night before, and I actually had to wake them up and remind them who had come through the night.
Good morning, sleepy heads!
We ended up spoiling them as well. It's hard not to. We bought little things for each of them but in our attempt to make it fair we always ended up buying more. We didn't end up picking up the motorized car for them, though we will come spring, because it would have been too much. Isaiah got his Barbie (he got 3 actually) and Braylon was happy with everything he received too. Caleb was content to watch the action from his chair, allowing his brothers to open his gifts. It was definitely nice not to have to rush around and to simply enjoy Christmas morning at home with the boys. I will have to be careful though next year to wrap gifts from Santa with only one kind of paper and Greg will have to let me get shopping done without the kids in tow since although he still believed Santa brought him the toys Isaiah also knew I'd bought them at the store. Good thing he's only just 3!
That afternoon we had Christmas with the Faria families. The boys enjoyed playing with Justin and Rachelle and although they went to bed late again that night, they slept well once asleep because they were tuckered out. That's the one tough thing about Christmas - it completely messes with our usual daily routine and so sleep is altered significantly. We bought the Faria kids Band Hero for Christmas, so of course we opened it up and played much of the evening.Our final Christmas was with Isaiah's godparents, our friends Candice and Altin. We are now godparents too, though not officially, to their daughter, Isabella. We went out to eat (and Isaiah passed out in the middle of dinner, so he had a sleep with his head on the table) before visiting with them. Bella is growing like crazy - we hadn't seen her for three weeks by this time and, at this age, they change daily! Everyone says Caleb is so much bigger now too, but I don't see it when I'm with him every day.
The rest of the month was devoted to work around the house. I got Christmas packed up and put away while Greg spent quite a few days framing the basement with his dad's help. It's almost done now, save for a few tricky spots. Then we'll have to plan out electrical before drywalling can begin. He's also been busy snowblowing lately as, with the turn of the new year, Strathroy has been hit hard with squalls. It has been nice for the boys, though, since they've been dying to go outside in the snow (which we didn't have up until about a week ago). Braylon is very cautious, as is his nature, and not much of a fan of the wind chill, but Isaiah loves being outdoors. Mateo came over to play with them while Greg was framing one day, and they've since been tobagganing at Weldon Park in Arva too. Here's hoping we can enjoy more days like this without treacherous weather now that Greg is back to work.
So, I've got two of three awake now (as it's taken me much of the afternoon to post this), and so I must sign off. Off to yoga soon anyhow!