Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

This year's Christmas was by far the best yet for our kids.  They are at such amazing ages.  They *truly* believe in Santa and all that surrounds the magic of the holiday.  Our morning started off very slow.  Our kids are just not those kids that wake up super early to open presents.  In fact, once again, Josh and I were the ones waiting on the kids to start the day.  Finally, at about seven o'clock, Aiden meandered down the stairs to see his Santa gifts waiting for him.  After he realized that he couldn't open any of them without his sister, he ran up the stairs to wake her so the gift opening could began. 

Present opening went much quicker this year and the kids were very excited about the whole process.  Plus, they really wanted to see if Santa listened to their gift requests.  Santa did deliver the presents that they wanted.  Aiden wanted a Spider Man skateboard.  Madi wanted a Chocolate Pen.  Both kids were very excited that Santa delivered as hoped!

After we concluded our own family Christmas at the house, we drove over to Grandma and Grandpa Farrell's to celebrate the holiday with them, Aunt Lynsey, Uncle Tonny and Oma.  The day was full of present opening, food munching, champagne drinking, game playing, and family conversing. Melinda and Michael also joined the festivities mid-afternoon for dinner and more game playing. 

What a nice way to spend the holiday, surrounded by family and friends wanting for nothing more....

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015

This Christmas Eve we decided to observe the evening in the same manner that we did last year ~ with a trailer hay ride through Moon Valley.  Prior to loading up the trailer and heading out to see the lights, we all enjoyed a little dinner in the park -- chili, sandwiches, chips & dip, S'Mores, cookies, and some hot chocolate.  After dinner, we all boarded the trailer for a drive through Moon Valley to see lights and the luminaries.  It was a chilly evening, but we all snuggled under blankets to keep warm.  What a fun way to start off our Christmas celebrations!

The kids before we left for Moon Valley Park
Our decorated trailer
Ho, Ho, Ho!
Lynsey and Tonny
Melinda and Wendy
Josh and Alisha
Will, Kiley, Madi and Aiden
The whole gang
Enjoying the trailer ride
Aunt Lynsey and Madi
All ready for bed in their new Christmas Eve pajamas
Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter Brrr-eak Camp 2015

This past week while on Winter Break from BASIS Phoenix Central Madilyn attended The Children's Museum of Phoenix's Winter Brrr-eak Camp.  It was a great experience for her and she loved it. Every day of the three day camp was filled with fun activities, crafts, story time, science projects, and a visit from Santa Claus.  When I asked Madi her favorite things about camp, her list included:
  • The fake campfire and s'mores
  • Learning about ice cream and eating it
  • Playing with sparkling play-doh
  • Making crafts and coloring
  • Receiving an early present from Santa

North Pole Experience

Every holiday season, we take the kids up north to visit Santa Claus.  We started this tradition in 2010 when Madilyn was about nine months old.  That year and thereafter, we have always chosen to take the kids to the Polar Express in Williams, Arizona.  This year, we wanted a change, so we decided to take them to the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff.  

The North Pole Experience is a Christmas adventure that takes families on a trolley ride through the magic portal to Santa’s massive workshop in the middle of the forest. Children and parents are then guided off the trolley where they knock for the elves. Once families enter Santa’s toy factory headquarters, that is where the real magic begins in Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole Experience is a complete, hands-on experience for children. The children work side-by-side with the elves, building toys and interacting with the workshop bustle. They receive access to Santa’s main factory floor with soaring toy slides and ceilings, attend Elf University, visit with Mrs. Claus and enjoy cookies and snowman soup in the bakery. Don’t forget Santa’s mail room, his personal office, and his top-secret “Area 47″ Sleigh Hanger, featuring his famous sleigh, jam packed with some of the most advanced technology in the world, runway lights, radar systems and more. And lastly, a family visit privately with Santa Claus.

It was an amazing experience.  We loved it!  As a parent, I loved watching the magic of Santa grow on each of my children's faces.  You could just tell they really thought they were at the North Pole. Their belief in Santa was solidified with this visit to Santa's workshop.  Both kids were mesmerized and enamored with the all of the elves and sights to see.  Madilyn, who has never wanted to sit on Santa's lap alone or without trepidation, ran gleefully to Jolly Saint Nick to tell him exactly what she wanted for Christmas.  Of course, it was the only toy that Santa may not have purchased for her.  Thank goodness for Amazon!  

We book-ended our trip with snow play.  On Saturday, when we arrived in Flagstaff, we drove to Oak Hill Snow Play Area to meet up with the Stocketts, one of our APA preschool families.  This particular play area has a great hill for the kids to sled.  Aiden, of course, loved sledding and couldn't get enough of it.  Madilyn continually tried to like sledding, but most often her ride ended in tears and her shouting "too fast, too fast".

Sunday morning, we were happily surprised to wake up to newly fallen snow.  It was so beautiful, but I am also thankful I do not have to live with it all winter.  After breakfast, we decided stop in Munds Park on our way home to give the kids some more time in the snow.  However, when we arrived in Munds Park, the new snow had not been plowed off of the roads so we ended up playing near one of the exit ramp gas stations.  It seemed to suit the kids just fine though.  Sadly, the only thing Madilyn wanted to do was build a snowman, but she was unable as the new snow was not sticky enough.  I guess she will have to wait until next year ...

Aiden and Brayden
Josh was exhausted carrying the sled up the hill for the kids
Bryce sledding
Madi's typical reaction after sledding, but she kept trying
Aiden all ready to sled
Happy making a snow man
Bryce taking his sled on another ride
Bryce and Brayden
Madi heading down the hill
Aiden and Bryce sledding together
All of the snow kids
All ready to get on the trolley for the North Pole
All aboard
One of Santa's elves explaining the workshop
Singing to gain entrance through the next door of the workshop
The Elf of the Original Santa's Workshop
The kids building toys with their Elf

Aiden's completed toy
Madi's completed toy
Now time to make toy rockets
And play with them too...
Shooting the rocket
Aiden loved this Elf
Santa's Main Factory Room
Having cookies and snowman soup in Mrs. Claus' bakery
Talking with one of Mrs. Claus' elves
Attending Elf University
Writing a letter to Santa in the Mailroom
Madi and her letter
Madi decided to ask Santa two questions instead of a wish list:
"reinber how do you fly?" and 
"how do the reindeer attach to the sleigh."
Aiden writing his letter
A picture of the "Spider Man motorcycle" that he is requesting from Santa
The kids with Santa
Family Photos
Extended Family Photo with Santa
Day Two:  More Snow Play

Family Photo in the Snow