Our first Christmas as a family of four
was filled with all sorts of shenanigans…
…mostly because we became a fantastic family of 5 with Auntie Cha Cha home for the holidays; she takes fun to a whole ‘nother level!
G getting her Auntie Cha Cha time
Aunt Cha Cha feeding G
Decorating my dinosaurs with cheese curds and pickles. Just because.
Some highlights of our fun include the adventures we had in our kitchen,
Attempting homemade tortillas (in honor of Nana Florence)
“This is going to be fun!”
Look at that skill!
Not-perfectly-round, but perfectly delicious!
Challenge #2: Make tamales
“Am I doing it right, Cha Cha?”
Spreading the masa onto the corn husk
Steam-ready tamales, made with love.
Misson Tamales = Success!
…gift opening with Cha Cha,
Gift-opening with Cha Cha
I was G’s lovely assistant.
G eyes up her gift.
Uh-oh! This is what a gift-opening hangover looks like.
… cheering for Ashlee at her basketball game,
Watching Ashlee play basketball
“Go Ashlee, go!”
G doesn’t quite understand the game yet.
Dad & G in the bleachers
Silly Cha Cha, sitting on my lap!
…enjoying sub-zero temps via sledding and 4-wheelers,
Getting all bundled up!
Ready for the cold.
Yay for body heat!
Running around on the pond.
It’s a winter wonderland.
Mom & G say in the warm Honda.
Red light, green light with Cha Cha and Dad
I’ll take the driver’s seat
Me and the Chachster
Mom and G
Pick me up at the bottom!
…and trying out my brand new, not-approved-by-mom BB gun! Luckily, dad is a good safety-first teacher and as it turns out, I’m a pretty darn good shot. After all, my name does mean “Hunter.”
Dad getting things set up
I am ready.
Here I go…
…in front of a live audience.
But like all good things, the shenanigans had to come to an end. So, just before Cha Cha left Melrose place, we froze time through photography to ensure that our future selves could point to these moments, should we ever wonder where all our smile wrinkles came from.
Thanks for visiting, Auntie Cha-Cha!
“…He came! Santa came while we were sleeping!!,” Mom and Dad proclaimed. So, without a stretch, I jumped out of bed and into the air, screaming “Woo hoooooo!” from the bottom of my stinky-morning-breath lungs.
But it wasn’t just a visit from Santa that made Genesee’s first Christmas so memorable… Guess who else found our house shortly after midnight?! The one and only Auntie Cha Cha!! I mean, this was a Christmas for the books!
After sifting through stocking surprises, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to enjoy a deliciously cheesy Crock Pot scrambled egg bake and another gift opening session. I’m not sure what I was most grateful for… discovering my new, fancy light-up shoes or snuggling under the Bucky blanket with Ash!
Then, once we were done making Christmas morning memories next door, it was time for me and Genesee to host family at our place.
Decorating my dinosaurs with cheese curds and pickles. Just because.
It was everything! Until everyone went home. Then there was nothing left to do but turn on the fireplace, snuggle under soft blankets, and watch Cars 3 while we let ourselves come down from our Christmas high.
It took ten minutes.
And we slept happily ever after.
As is tradition, we celebrated Christmas Eve at Ellen’s house. But not before showcasing my many smiles in front of our decorated tree for the obligatory Christmas Eve photoshoot!
But gone are the days when the camera focused on just me and my snappy bowtie. This year, there was a new cutie in the picture. (My sister. She’s the one on the right. In case you’re struggling to identify which one of us is the cutie.)
We arrived at Ellen’s after mom was somewhat satisfied with her snapshots, and although I was excited to experience the holiday with Genesee, I immediately ditched her so that I could play in the basement with friends, eat holiday ham and meatballs at the big kid’s table, track Santa’s whereabouts online (He was in New Zealand), and run laps around Garrett and Morgan’s new house! Of course, I reunited with my sister once it was time to unwrap her generous gift from Ellen. Because Genesee doesn’t have gift-opening skills yet. And because I’m thoughtful like that. Just call me “Santa’s little greedy helper.”
All in all, Christmas Eve was a blast! I hated to leave such a fun family party, but we needed to return home to execute my Rudolph pajamas wardrobe change and to leave a note for Santa in case I missed him.
And as the story goes, I did miss him, while I snored away underneath fleecey-warm sheets. But luckily, he didn’t miss us…
‘Tis the season to eat your heart out! So, last weekend, I decided to forego my trusty, much-adored, fleecey pants and replaced them with loungy bottoms that had a little more elastic! This brilliant strategy allowed me to overconsume delicious, homemade cookies (baked from Grandma’s cookie dough and sprinkled with love by yours truly) AND fully enjoy scrumptious, homemade pizza (with toppings galore that covered Birrittella’s freshly-tossed, authentic, New York pizza dough).
Even Genesee got into the spirit, by chowing down on her first solid food: sweet potatoes! (She did awesome!!)
Clearly, we all love Stretchy Pants Season, especially when surrounded by family and friends!
There are some drawbacks to having such a cool, chill, mild-tempered, good-natured, practically perfect baby sister:
- She often makes me look bad. (Genesee is a good-listening, never-gets-sassy, content little sweetheart who sleeps in her own bed, only cries when it’s necessary, and finishes all her meals.)
- Ear infections go undetected (Since G doesn’t whine or put up a fuss, we get no indication if something is wrong.)
- Hmmm… This is kind of a short list. Since I’m struggling to identify an additional downside to my wonderful sister, please refer back to #1.
Poor Genesee! We weren’t even going to make a trip to see the doctor, but decided to get her cough checked out. Turns out, we discovered an ear infection instead.
On a brisk December night, amidst the calm of fluttering snowflakes, darkness fell over my school and transformed the complex into a magnificent Candyland! The teachers had previously sent us home for the day, but invited all families back for a holiday open house. Of course, since I’m always down for a good after-party, you bet I showed up with bells and whistles and my santa-antler-headband!
The dress code was casual: Holiday pajammies
The menu was delicious: Sugar hors d’oeuvres
The agenda was simple: Have fun.
And, oh what fun I had! Through the Lollipop Woods and across the Gumdrop Mountains, I loved skipping from room to room, exploring the outer limits of every sweet activity. I even discovered Santa Claus waiting for me somewhere between Licorice Castle and Cupcake Commons. So naturally, I told him all of my “needs,” then repeated all of my needs, gave him a big hug, and finally shouted, “Love you Santa!” before finding my merry way back through the Peppermint Forest.
It. Was. Awesome.
Pre-party at Carlos O’Kelly’s
We have arrived! Let. Us. In.
This reindeer is ready!
The rainbow balloon bridge!
I took the path less traveled.
Follow the candyland path
Posing with Santa
“Listen up, Santa. I need…”
“In summary, ….”
The whole fam!
Ice Cream Slopes
Do I want a tootatt?!
Don’t mind if I do!
Gingerbread bean bag toss? I got this!
Cookie frosting station
The taste-test is a success
The teachers love me!
Me and the rents
Mom & Dad (photo credit: Me)
Me and mom
My adventure resulted in nothing but rave reviews and sticky fingers. But beware the other side of Candyland… It’s a dark, quiet, not-fun place called Sleepyland, which I highly do not recommend.
Note to self: Never leave the Candyland premises.
As the clock struck December, we went in search of holiday cheer at Big Al’s Pizzeria, and found it on our taste buds that tingled from the satisfaction of deliciously ooey, gooey calzones.
Then we took our happy, overstuffed bellies to Riverside Park, in search of more holiday cheer, and found it illuminating the sky, as we skipped through the spectacular, sparkling, and-oh-so-magical Rotary Light show.
Finally, to confirm that December joy had spread to other zip codes, we followed the railroad tracks to Sparta, and indeed, we found holiday cheer dancing across the faces of every child perched on the shoulders of giants.
I love this time of year and all the holiday cheer. It’s easy. It’s everywhere. It’s Christmas!