Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cannings Come to Visit!

We were very excited to have the Canning family come to visit us during winter break. (The Cannings are Jason's sister Shalene and her three children...Alaina (9), Jonny (7) and Cody (5).)  They arrived in Baltimore on the day after Christmas and we immediately headed over to one of our favorite places, "Port Discovery."

The kids had a great time exploring the children's museum together and it was a fun way to get reacquainted since we hadn't seem them since our Texas trip in June.

Nolan especially loved the sand table since the cold weather has put a damper on his sand-playing fun lately...

All the kids enjoyed playing in the diner together and making us lots of delicious "food."

Port Discovery did a wonderful job of wearing everyone out. This was our view in the "boy's van" while the girls happily chatted away in the other car!

We spent the day Friday playing (the kids), shopping (the moms), and reading (Jason) which made it a successful day for us all!

On Saturday, we decided to head down to Washington, D.C. to explore some of the Smithsonian Museums. It was a gorgeous, warm winter day and unfortunately everyone else in Maryland/Virginia decided to do the same thing. I have never seem so many people on the National Mall or in the Museum of Natural Science (our favorite Smithsonian) than I saw on that day. This made trying to navigate the museum with six small children a bit of a challenge. We only saw a few things before we decided it was best to escape the insanity...

We walked over to the White House...

(I love living so close to these historical sites!)

And then got a close-up view of the National Tree...

Nolan did his best to break through security, but was unsuccessful in his attempts!

There were also trees from all 50 states and U.S. territories surrounding the National Tree. Here is the "Colorado" tree...

And our little "Maryland" tree...

At this point we decided it was time to head over to the temple to tour the Visitor's Center and see the Christmas lights still on display. Trying to navigate D.C. on any day is challenging, but add in lots of crowds, two vehicles trying to follow each other, and a wonky GPS and it was pretty disastrous. Our GPS kept giving us wrong directions and "recalculating" eventually became a curse word in our van that day. (I think Jason would have thrown it out the window if it wasn't a part of our dashboard!) After driving around D.C. forever and getting nowhere, we decided to scrap the Temple idea and just head on home. We did hit up "Chick-Fil-A" on the drive back though, so the kids thought it was a great adventure!

We spent Sunday going to church and playing lots of games, a perfect way to spend the Sabbath with cousins!

On Monday, we decided to brave the cold and headed to City Park to feed the ducks. We were the only crazy ones there that day, which made the ducks love us even more!

After seeing these pictures, I realize that Nolan probably ended up with more duck food in the hood of his coat than he actually gave the ducks to eat!

Cody even got a goose to eat the food right from his hand!

After the duck food was gone, we played at the playground for about 10 seconds before rushing back to the warm car (although it was a very FUN 10 seconds from the looks on these little faces!)

We ended the evening with a bonfire for FHE and roasting marshmallows. The Cannings left for home the next day and it was sad to see them leave. It sure was fun to create some happy memories together though! And as I have to remind my little Abby frequently (she gets so sad when its time to say goodbye)..."Don't be sad its over, just be glad it happened!"

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Nolan Man!

Nolan is at such a cute age right now. He is definitely our least verbal child, but he is slowly learning new words and we get a kick out of his little language skills.

He got a set of soft rubber balls for Christmas and he loves tossing them around the house. Finally Landon has a little playmate when it comes to sports!

He is such a happy little man too, and provides us with endless laughter in our home.

Don't get me wrong, he can be quite the little stinker at times too. He has earned the nickname "Swiper" in our family because he is constantly getting into things and "swiping" things that don't belong to him. He especially loves to raid the pantry and no child lock has been able to keep him out. We may have to resort to a chain lock before he eats us out of house and home!!

We sure do love our Nolan though!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It's Christmas!!

We woke up to a magical sight on Christmas morning...

We made the kids wait until 7 a.m. to come downstairs (I say "we" but really mean "I"...I think Jason was just as giddy with excitement as Abby and Landon were!)

At 7 a.m. there was a mad dash into the family room...

And a wonderful sense of fun as everyone checked out their new toys!!

Then it was time for the gift-opening. We took our time this year, taking turns opening our presents one at a time, and allowing the children to play with each present for a bit before moving onto the next one.

Abby also enjoyed handing out a few of the presents (this is normally Jason's job but he gave in to her wishes this year!) 

And we all loved seeing the faces of excitement shine through as each present was unwrapped!

The rest of the day consisted of a yummy breakfast, lots of playing, and a traditional Christmas dinner that evening.

Oh, how we all love Christmas. We can't wait until it arrives again next year!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Magical Night of the Year!

The kids were pretty giddy with excitement all day long on December 24th. It is such a magical day, the anticipation of Christmas day so close you can feel it in the air!

After our traditional dinner of pizza, breadsticks and salad, we headed out on the town to look at a few Christmas lights. Then we headed back home in order to read and act out the Christmas story.

We have the main parts covered in our home, although the "baby Jesus" isn't exactly a baby any longer!

Our beautiful and serene-looking Mary...

Our "baby" Jesus...

And our noble-looking Joseph...

After the Nativity, it was time to open our Christmas Eve pajamas...

Don't they look adorable?
 (I think I should earn a medal for being able to find matching pajamas that would fit all three kids and were gender-neutral. Not such an easy task!) The bonus part about these pajamas are that they are super warm fleece ones and although they have the Christmas colors, they are actually apples so not too holiday-themed. Thank you Amazon!!

Then it was time to open a new family game...Twister!!
This was actually a pretty fun game to get since we can all "play" it together (although Nolan tends to cheat a lot :)

After a short Christmas video, we laid out our treats for Santa, sprinkled reindeer dust on both the front and back lawns, and then said goodnight. Abby and Nolan fell asleep rather quickly, but Landon was our night owl again. It takes him a while to fall asleep on a normal night, so Christmas Eve was especially difficult for this little guy to quiet his mind and enter dreamland. I think he FINALLY fell asleep around 11 p.m., with just enough time for Santa's "helpers" to get things arranged for the next day. 

"T'was the night before Christmas!!"

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Eve of Christmas Eve...

We spent the weekend before Christmas baking and delivering homemade treats to people in our neighborhood and ward. I know this is kind of a dying tradition (along with Christmas cards, sadly) but it is one tradition that our whole family really enjoys.

On the Monday before Christmas (what we like to call "the eve of Christmas Eve," we put together our annual gingerbread house. I think the kids enjoy this tradition mostly because of the all the candy that they get to consume while putting it together, but it's still fun.

Not sure what is going on with Landon in these pictures. I guess he was just really excited about the house. Abby likes to do this model pose now and Nolan, well, he is just as cute as ever!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

TNT Frosty Meet

We had our first home gymnastics meet on Saturday, December 14th. Abby ended up getting four more medals and even a trophy! That was a big goal of hers on her bucket list of life! (Especially since Landon already has two trophies from soccer.) Here she is on the floor, vault, beam and bars. She is definitely better at some of the events (bars and floor) than others (vault, beam) but she keeps improving and is loving it all so that's what counts the most.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

First Snowfall of the Season

While my mom was visiting, we also got our first snowfall of the season. I love looking at the world with a beautiful white blanket of snow on it... 

This was also our dog Cooper's first time with the white stuff and we were anxious to see how he would do. Needless to say, he LOVED the snow and it was so cute to watch him frolic in the snowdrifts. (Love those bearded white faces!)

Of course Abby and Landon hurriedly got their long-buried snow gear out from the closet so they could enjoy the snow too!

And busily worked on their snowman. Meet "Olaf"...

They decided they didn't want Olaf to be lonely so they made another little friend for him too.
It was actually good timing for the snow since they cancelled school on Monday and Tuesday and the kids were able to enjoy my mom's last few days here. I am sure we will enjoy many more snow days this winter!!