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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Traditions - Old & New

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year. I have a reputation for going all-out with my decorating and Christmas traditions, and that has all been taken to a whole new level now that I am a Mom. Ryan and I both agree that there is nothing like the magic of Christmas as seen through the eyes of a child... I'm sure every parent out there knows what I am talking about!

We added a few new family Christmas traditions this year, and I'll tell you all about those in just a minute. First, let me share some of the things that we have always done...

We've always made a photo Christmas card to send to our friends and relatives each year. In the past, it would either have a picture of our dog or a picture of Ryan and I posing with the dog. Of course for the past four Christmases, it's been all REAGAN REAGAN REAGAN!!!
I think that I already mentioned that I like to decorate for Christmas. I have been known to decorate EVERY room in the house, as well as the entire front yard! I've scaled back just a little these last few years, but not much! Reagan has her very own little tree that she decorates, and she is also responsible for placing the star on both her and my tree with the help of Daddy and a step stool.
What would Christmas be without a visit to see Santa? How about THREE visits to see three different Santas? That is what happened this year! We discovered my favorite Santa at the home of a local family who decorates their entire front acre of land with millions of Christmas lights. In the center of the grand display is a giant blue fairy-tale type castle where the most magnificent Santa sits on his giant throne to welcome the kids. Trust me when I tell you that he is fabulous... I even have a small video clip to prove just how much he interacts with each child!

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My dad started this next tradition when I was a little little girl, and we have continued it to this day... the family Christmas picture. Normally this picture is taken on Christmas day at the completion of opening our gifts from Santa. Since my parents were leaving to go back to SC on Christmas Eve, we opened our gifts with them a little early and captured the picture that evening...
I think that this next tradition is Reagan's favorite... making goodies for Santa! She samples everything that she helps to create! This year we made cookies for Santa and Nokee (I'll explain who Nokee is in just a few more paragraphs) as well as a beautiful gingerbread house. I tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to projects like the gingerbread house, so I let Ryan and Reagan take control of that task while I finished hanging the stockings by the fireplace...
The first thing Reagan does on Christmas morning is to look and see if Santa came the night before. She makes sure that she has a pile of presents, and then she runs into the kitchen to see if he drank the milk and ate the cookies that she left for him. He did this year as in the past, but he also made a little bit of a mess this year when he stepped out of the chimney... there was black dust and soot spread across my Christmas village!
The Santa Bag is a tradition that we started last year, and it is one that we will continue for years to come. All of Reagan's toys from Santa (that will fit) are placed in the Santa sack and left in the middle of the living room for her to unpack. She did the same thing this year as she did last year when she got to the bottom of the pile... she went into the bag just to make sure there wasn't anymore gifts!
I've got some more cute pics of Reagan opening her gifts this year...
I even got some GREAT shots of Anna opening her gifts... she was especially excited about the tickets we got her to go see the BLACK EYED PEAS in concert this April!
We also do a LOT of eating over the Christmas holidays. I started a new tradition last year of Christmas French Toast on Christmas Eve for breakfast, and I also make a breakfast casserole to have on Christmas morning to enjoy once we have finished the hours of present opening. When we are home for the holidays, we always get together with Ryan's family on boxing day (the day after Christmas that is an actual holiday in Canada) for a big dinner and to let the kids open their family gifts. I had hosted this event the last two years, but this year Ryan's brother Kyle and his wife Denise were the hosts in their new home. I was happy to not have to cook, but I was even happier to get some sweet snuggles and cuddles from their precious little girl Karis...
One of my favorite NEW traditions that we started this year is all about a little elf named Nokee. My parents gave us the book called "The Elf on the Shelf" for Christmas last year, and we were very excited to use it this Christmas for the very first time. The book explains how Santa can't manage all of the Christmas magic by himself, so he has elves who help him. Santa sends a magical elf to all of his most special boys and girls to watch over them and to report back to Santa each night. The book even comes with the elf! Reagan named her elf Nokee (short for Pinocchio) the first morning that she discovered him. We had been reading the book together before bed for almost a week, so she knew that she could not touch Nokee or else he would lose his magical elf powers. She also knew that he would watch over her throughout the day and report back to Santa each night when he flew home to the North Pole. Nokee returned to our house every morning, and every morning he landed in a new spot. After only a couple of mornings, Reagan had created a game of finding where Nokee landed and she would race down the stairs to find him! We were sad to see our little elf fly home on Christmas Eve, but we know that he will be back next year to spread more Christmas cheer in our house. (Plus that gives me and Ryan a whole year to come up with some new and fun elf hiding/landing spots!!!
Another first for us the year was the "First Annual Wright Family Tacky Christmas Sweater Party" that our neighbors across the street hosted. We had received our invitation to this party well before my parents came up to visit, so we had requested that my mom bring some of her... ahem... bright and beautiful Christmas sweaters left over from her elementary school teaching days! She even brought a lovely reindeer sweatshirt for Anna to wear! Reagan didn't understand the meaning of "tacky", but Auntie Anna quickly helped her to understand. I was working a wedding that day, so Auntie Anna took charge of helping Reagan to make her very own tacky Christmas sweater complete with real twigs from our backyard hedges for the arms of the snowman. I made it home in time for the party, and we all had a fantastic time. None of us won a prize for the tackiest sweater, so I guess we will have to try even harder next year!
Being that this is Reagan's first year in preschool, this was my first year to receive beautiful hand made gifts from Reagan. I shouldn't say that it is all because of preschool either...Auntie Anna helped Reagan to make gifts for me, Ryan, Momsey & Pops at home. We each received either a tree, a wreath, a santa, or a reindeer that were made from cut outs of Reagan's hands. At preschool, Reagan also made a beautiful pine cone Christmas ornament and a yummy Christmas tree made out of an ice cream cone and lots of icing and jelly beans!
One more tradition was started this year, and it was also a fabulous idea given to us by Momsey & Pops... REINDEER FOOD! Everyone leaves out goodies for Santa, but the reindeer are the ones who do all the hard work of pulling that sleigh across the sky. This year we spread reindeer food across our front lawn so that the reindeer could snack while Santa went down our chimney. What is reindeer food you ask? Why it's a combination of dried oatmeal, dried grits, and lots of glitter!!! The oatmeal and grits are the food, and the glitter helps the reindeer to see our house that much better! Reagan loved running through the yard spreading a little extra Christmas magic that night...
I'm sure that every one of these traditions will continue again next year, and I can't help but to already wonder what new traditions we will create in the years to come!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

POPS AND MOMSEY ARE HERE!

I'm finally getting caught up enough to write a post about Pops and Momsey being here... and they leave to fly home tomorrow!

They arrived in Vancouver on Thursday night, December 10th shortly after midnight. My original plan was to leave Reagan sleeping at home with Daddy, but Reagan had a different plan! I agreed that if she would go to bed super early that night, then I would put her into her car seat while she was sleeping and we would wake her up when we got to the airport. It didn't quite work that way... as soon as I lifted her out of her bed, she started asking if Momsey and Pops were here yet!

Once we arrived at the airport, Reagan was bursting at the seams with excitement. As soon as she saw my parents, she started running down the concourse to greet them. It's an experience I never get tired of watching as she does the same thing each time they fly into town. Tomorrow's experience, as we say our goodbyes, will be a different story I am afraid.

The first week that my parents were here, Anna took advantage of the two new "nanny's" in the house and flew back to SC to visit with her friends. Pops and Momsey were loving their new role as they took Reagan to gymnastics, preschool, tap and ballet during the week while Ryan and I worked. Anna got back into town exactly one week after Pops and Momsey arrived, and it was only a few days later that I was finally finished with my busy season at work and was able to take some time off to enjoy the whole family being here for Christmas.

Here's a few highlights of what Pops and Momsey and Reagan have been up to these last couple of weeks:

They have been crazy monkeys...
They have been lazy to regain their strength from being crazy monkeys...

They have been crazy monkeys again...

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We have all exchanged our Christmas gifts...
And ever since Reagan opened her Mermaid Barbie Bath toy, one of her many Christmas gifts from Pops & Momsey, she has spent countless hours in the tub...
We have also done a lot of shopping, we've gone to two different Christmas lights displays, we've seen Santa three times, we've been out to a fancy dinner, we had a family game night, we've let Pops fix over a dozen odds and ends that needed repair in the house, and we've simply had fun and enjoyed being with each other!

If we can get Reagan to stay out of the bathtub long enough, we will be taking Pops and Momsey back to the airport for their return flight home tomorrow. As always, the visit was far too short... so maybe I need to encourage her to stay in the tub after all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Ultimate Playroom

This is what our garage looked like just over a month ago...
Even then, we called it Reagan's playroom. An old comforter tossed onto the concrete covered in toys qualified it as a playroom. And also a junk/storage room. We had been talking for over a year about converting it into a playroom for Reagan... we finally took the plunge and did it!

It was a long and difficult process, but we tackled the entire renovation on our own! Reagan even pitched in to lend a helping hand while Ryan was installing the new floor...
We didn't want to lose the storage space that we so desperately need, so we kept the garage door functioning and created a pocket ceiling for it to open into. All of our outside storage (bikes, wagons, strollers etc) are now stored in this area and can easily be accessed by use of the garage door clicker...
We also still needed a place for our deep freezer and other items that just should not be seen on a daily basis (like the vacuum cleaner, about 4 different sets of luggage, and all of the old baby stuff that we don't need at this time but will hopefully need again in the not so far off future) so we created a wall with closet doors to keep the unsightly items concealed....
The space that remains between these two storage areas is the new playroom that is simply a magnificent addition to our home. We have renovated our entire home over the last 4 years, and this project ties for first place for what I am the most proud of. My kitchen is the other tie-holder, and I do plan to eventually get pictures of that reno onto my blog even if it has now been over a year since it was completed!

Reagan's playroom is like a fairy tale dreamland for a little girl...
I ordered the wall mural from a company in the States, and my friend Tiff was gracious enough to let me ship it to her and then drive 5 minutes across the border to get it! I painted the entire wall behind the art easel with a magnetic paint so that Reagan can proudly display and change all of her artwork on the wall as she creates it. I still need to get a couple of canvas drawings and a large area rug, and I have to paint the closet doors and the door leading to the outside storage area. Even with those little items left unfinished at this point, we couldn't be any happier with how this project has turned out. Reagan absolutely loves it, and I absolutely love the fact that the rest of my house no longer has ANY toys in it!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Redneck Christmas Lights Parade

I never again want to hear anyone up here in Canada make jokes about people from the South being rednecks. I now have proof that rednecks are EVERYWHERE... not just in the deep south! We ventured out into the freezing cold the other night to take Reagan to the Christmas Lights Parade that was taking place only about 10 minutes from where we live.

It was really really really cold.

We were all really really really excited for the parade.

Everyone but Reagan was really really really disappointed!

I have never in my life seen something like this before. Over 80% of the parade consisted of big rigs that had been decked out and decorated for Christmas. While it was strange to see, it was also very spirited all at the same time. It was the kind of thing that you couldn't believe you were watching, yet you couldn't turn your eyes away from it for a single second in fear you may miss something! The main problem was that after about 20 of what seemed like 100 rigs, it started to get very very old. Of course they all wanted to blast their air-horns as well over and over again in an attempt to sound like Christmas carols... It didn't work!

Maybe I was just grumpy because I was so cold. Poor Auntie Anna was so cold that we nearly lost her in all her clothes...
Reagan was all bundled up as well... notice the smile on her face as she was loving EVERY SECOND of the parade!
Of course I've got a couple of pictures of the parade itself to show you. Like I said, it was oddly mesmerizing and oh so very REDNECK!
I think next year we will make an effort to attend the Santa parade in downtown Vancouver instead!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Disney On Ice

The last weekend of November, Disney on Ice came to Vancouver and we knew we had to be there. Reagan had been seeing the commercials on TV for weeks, and she knew that we had tickets to go. I think she started counting down the number of sleeps almost a month before our ticket date!

We had ordered our tickets with friends, so we left the house early that morning to meet up with them before heading downtown for the big show. Do to a slight mishap of misplaced tickets and an hour's worth of frantic searching for said tickets once we arrived at our friend's house, we arrived at the venue just as the show was starting. This would have been fine except for the fact that we had to park over half a mile away from the coliseum and then run UP HILL IN THE RAIN to get to the place! To make matters worse, once we finally got inside and to our seats we discovered that people were already sitting in our spot... two separate groups of people that required two sets of security to straighten out the dilemma for us. By the time we were finally settled in our seats, we had missed the opening act by Mickey & Minnie and the first set of characters from Cars. Thankfully I don't think the kids were as much aware of the chaos as the adults were. The kids were simply mesmerized by all that was transpiring on the ice down below with The Little Mermaid...
...and then The Lion King came next...
After a brief intermission in which Reagan begged (successfully I might add) for nearly every souvenir that she saw, it was time for the headliner of the show.... TINKERBELL!
My pictures don't do it justice, but Tink's finale was simply beautiful. She definitely saved the day and made sure that Spring arrived! (If you've seen the movie then you understand what I'm talking about.)
And finally, Mickey & Minnie came back out to bid us all farewell from a fun-filled afternoon...
Reagan is already asking when we can go see Disney on Ice again. If it were up to her, I think we would become part of their road crew just so that she could see them all again and again and again!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Last Three Show Days at PreSchool

In all the chaos called life these past couple of months, I have neglected to post the pics and videos from Reagan's Show Day at preschool for October AND for November. So, to remedy that problem, I'm adding them to the December Show Day post!!!

All the kids dressed up for the October Show Day in their Halloween costumes. Reagan was the only unicorn in the group...

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For November, the kids sang songs about autumn leaves falling to the ground, as well as their "Going for Goodness" theme song for the month about making room for your friends. The kids all get so excited to answer the questions that the teachers call out, and each one wants to be the one to show off in front of all the parents by providing the correct answer. This is clearly obvious in the picture of Reagan and the others waving their hands in anticipation of being called on by her teacher!

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December is the biggest Show Day of the entire school year, and it was standing room only as over 100 proud family members were present. The kids did a demonstration of the nativity scene before singing their Christmas carols. And if you can't figure it out for yourself from the video, let me be the one to tell you that Reagan is quite the LOUD singer in the group!

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The kids all work so hard in preparation for these performances, and it is adorable to watch all that they have learned. SHOW DAY HAS BECOME MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE MONTH!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Princess Party

Not long after Halloween, the girls in our house had a princess party. Ryan had gone downtown to watch the Canuck game with some of the guys from his work, so Reagan, Auntie Anna and I had a girls night "in" to play dress up. We started the evening with Reagan curling my hair with her princess curling iron. I had recently decided to do make some changes to my hair (bye bye platinum blonde!) and had cut it even shorter than before, so this was no easy task for Reagan to accomplish.
Next, we let Reagan wear some of Mommy's make up after she had dressed up in her purple princess ballgown.
Reagan was determined that we ALL be dressed in fancy dresses to go to the royal ball, and that we all had to have our hair and make up done. That meant that it was Auntie Anna's turn. Reagan managed the makeup while I curled Anna's hair into what seemed like 2 million ringlets.
There is a short supply of ballgowns in our house that would fit either Anna or myself, so we had to do a little improvising. Since I am the proud owner of this blog, I have the power to NOT embarrass myself with the horrible picture that was taken of me wearing the EXACT same outfit that I wore for my high school Homecoming Court in 1992. I can however embarrass my sister by posting a picture of her in what Reagan called "the Cinderella dress" that evening. Truth be told... this is the nightgown that I wore on my wedding night!
We were having so much fun dancing around the house, having a tea party, and just enjoying being girls that the neighbors from across the street came over to see what in the world we were doing. After we all recovered from laughing so hard, they joined in on the fun! It really was a great night!

Sorry Auntie Anna! Don't embarrass me too bad in return when I let you be a guest blogger on this site next year!