Thursday, December 22, 2011

Musically Challenged

Last weekend Dominic's music teacher across the street had a holiday party, which included a sampling of her students' talents. (Dominic takes both voice and piano from her.)
She has this party almost every year and I always look forward to it.
We haven't been in a couple of years though and I forgot that even though the whole family is is really geared more for early teens and up...meaning not toddlers and five-year-olds!

This is how it went...
We make the LONG trek across the street ;)

Walk in to find quite a few people mingling, lots of food, lots of sweets...very close to the edge of a very-reachable table.

Her house was beautifully decorated for Christmas...

Immediately Connor started asking for cookies..."Ok...2...each...for you and your sister."
This lasted about 2 minutes before they wanted more and Emma Kate was reaching up trying to grab more sweets off the table.

Emma also wanted to play the gorgeous piano that was all set for Dom's music teacher...not a 21 month old with sticky fingers!

Finally it was time for a few performances...
The first was by an adult man who sang a Christmas song (for the life of me-at  this moment- can't remember which one it was!) absolutely beautifully (this is why I love this party so much...I love love love hearing some good voices...especially singing Christmas songs.)

We conveniently had seated ourselves on the couch, very close to this man, microphone, and the speaker.
As he started, Emma was all smiles...she thought this was pretty neat...
by the end of the very L-O-N-G, very LOUD song, both of my young children had their hands over their ears. So embarrassing!

Then it was Dom's turn!
(Let me tell home when Dominic practices the piano, Emma Kate will stand next to him and "play" along...I think this is really cute...and so does Dom...AT HOME!)
This was not so cute when she got up and tried to play along with him when he was performing in front of a house full of people!

I swooped her up and took her in the kitchen. For some juice. At 7pm.
Whatever it takes to keep 'em happy. And quiet. And it worked.

Dominic then hopped on the "mic" and belted out Michael Bubble's "Cry Me A River."
Yeah Dom!
He sounded so good!

One other student sang and then it was time for more drinks, food, and mingling...

Connor thought this meant it was time to climb all over the couch.

And Emma Kate thought it was her turn to sing...

Jeff swooped the kids up to take them home to bed.

(It probably wasn't THAT bad to other people...but to us...totally exhausting...and we weren't even there that long!)

Sadly Jeff left before getting to hear this young lady sing,
"Where are you Christmas?"

She had the most clear and beautiful voice I have ever heard! Especially for being 10 years old!
I had tears in my eyes by the end of the song.

We then gathered closely around the piano and sang some Christmas carols as Dom's teacher worked the piano...and her voice!
I barely sang...I am always mesmerized when I hear that woman sing...she has such a beautiful operatic voice...and there was no way I was going to put everyone to shame with the "beauty" of my own singing!

Oh boy! Chop this night up as another adventure of having 3 kids of very different ages and stages...
Next year...BABYSITTER!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Date Night with Connor

I needed to get Connor out for some new shoes and he has been expressing a strong desire to spend some one-on-one time with me, thus...
DATE NIGHT with Connor!!

We headed to Walnut Creek to see all the Christmas decorations and lights.
(Secretly I needed to get him into Nordstrom  for shoes.)

As we walked from the parking garage, I suggested that since we were walking "this way" that we go through Crate & Barrel...
he obliged and insisted that we go upstairs (he always loves to go up there!)
(We walked around upstairs through the furniture department while he asked over and over,
"Would you want that, Mom?"

After going through Pottery Barn, getting some Hot Chocolate at William Sonoma (thinking of you, L.!) and checking out the ornaments at the Hallmark store, I saw a sign outside of  Build A Bear that read,
"Build your own Bear ONLY 24.99!"

I thought, "Now that would be a lot more fun than grabbing dessert together tonight!"

I suggested that we go in and make a new cozy bear to snuggle and keep Connor safe all night.
(We have lots of issues...still...with Connor wanting to come into our bed at night :(
And to think once upon a time he was a great sleeper!)

And so in we went!

He stuffed...

He picked a heart and warmed it with his hands before putting it in his new bear...

After a quick bath, the creation of a Birth Certificate, and some new clothes...
We have..."Fluffy!"

He had so much fun!

We made it to Nordstrom for about 20 minutes with many unsuccessful pairs of shoes tried on.
He was sprawled out on the bench in the shoe department with his eyes drooping when I realized I probably had pushed him a little too late!

One stop at the Christmas tree before heading home...
(Wish I had gotten a better picture but this will have to do.)

He was so proud when we arrived home to introduce Fuzzy to the rest of the family.

I think I've started a new tradition of Holiday Time Date Nights...and probably Any Time Date Nights with the kids.
I'm kinda diggin' it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Fundraiser

A couple of weekends ago I took the boys to church to build Gingerbread houses.
I know. I know. We already built Gingerbread houses this year!
But every year our church holds a Gingerbread Making Event to raise
money for Habitat for Humanity. (Clever huh?)

I had never gone before, due to schedule conflicts and was so happy when I realized that I had the day free!
For each house we paid a $10 donation.

Their loot options were so much better than ours at home!
They had EVERYTHING you could think of!

They had so much frosting...frosting...and more frosting!

Dominic got his own house and I helped Connor with his.

Here's Dom's finished product...

From the front:

From the back:

And Connor's...

These boys are pro's!!

I love doing Christmas activities that also Give Back :) 

For more information on Habitat for Humanity and how you can get involved, click here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Not About Santa!

Last week before school got out for "Winter Break" Connor's Kindergarten classes put on a Christmas Program filled with songs and poems.


Bunga and Corben met Emma and me at the school to watch.

To all of our surprise, Santa showed up!

After the program everyone went back to their own classrooms for a party, to which Santa showed up as well.
In the classroom Santa went around to each child and said, "What's your name?"
Then proceeded to say, "Merry Christmas..." and handed him/her a candy cane.

Connor is still a little leary of Santa, but put on a brave face for all of his friends.

This is what Connor had to say on the way home from school that day:

"Mom I kept trying to raise my hand today to tell my teacher that
Christmas is NOT about Santa. It's about GOD! She wouldn't call on me though, so
I didn't get a chance to tell her.
They make such a big deal about Santa coming back when they should be celebrating Jesus' birthday!

And that wasn't the real Santa anyway!
First of all...that beard was fake!
Second of all...he had holes in his gloves.
And Mo-om...Santa knows who I am!
That guy had to ask me my name!"

Who can argue with that?!?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dom & Mom Night Out

Dominic and I have NOT been getting along the last couple has been rough!
This morning before school was a sort of breaking point for me. 
All day I was thinking about how I can barely stand being around him lately (I'm sorry! It's true!)
I also was thinking that it is "definitely" time for a TALK.

I have also been telling Jeff that I need to take Dom out shopping both for some nice clothes/shoes for Christmas and to help him finish up his shopping. (I have been dreading this...clothes and shoe shopping with my teenage son is no picnic...let me tell you!)

Jeff suggested I take him out tonight and talk while we were out.
As the day progressed I started thinking about how this could either go very well...

We got in the car about 7:30 tonight.
I asked him where he needed to go and what he needed to get.
We derrived a pretty good plan and off we went.

We hit a couple stores and were having...
A really good time.

This is when I decided to exercise my woman's right to change her mind...
and not talk about the last couple of weeks or this morning's unfortunate event.

Just to enjoy my time with my teenage son.
After all he probably won't be around too many more years.
And he is pretty cool when we get to just
(Like the old days!)

We stopped at CPK for dessert.
We decided to sit at the counter...which I haven't done for YEARS!
(A family of 5 doesn't really lend itself to counter seating...
actually it doesn't really lend itself to seating. In a restaurant. At all lately.)

Then we shared the Key Lime Pie...mmmm..
And some nice stiff waters;)

We enjoyed the lights of downtown Walnut Creek.

And he showed me how to use the Manual Focus on my camera.
(A benefit to having a teenager around!)

We did lots of shopping.
He picked out a very nice Christmas outfit...
just wait...!
He got 3 new pairs of shoes as well...woohoo!
(He was so overdue!)

And we got a little silly with our pictures by the tree...

I have no regrets about not having had any serious talk with him tonight.
It was so nice to just enjoy HIM and who he is right now.

My hope is that having some one-on-one time will make the next few weeks a little nicer...
and if not...I had tonight.

And it was really fun:)

Christmas Tree Hunt 2011

So our tree hunting day usually consists of going to a tree farm, dragging a saw and carrier all over the hill looking for a tree to cut down, getting tired of trees that look horrible, and heading back down to purchase one of the pre-cut trees after all.
This has definitely become a joke in our family...yet most years we still do it!

This year was different.

Jeff's parents had heard about Larry's Produce in Fairfield.
So we gave it a try.

First of all...I am definitely going back there...just for their produce!
At good prices.
And beautiful!

Anyway back to the trees...
they are unique in that they have an area that sort of looks like a big car port where they have their trees...
So you can turn them and really see what they look like.

Emma Kate helped look...

Connor found some good ones...

And finally we found our tree...
7 foot.

And when you find your tree, you tell one of the workers, they fresh cut it, and take it to your car.
Meanwhile after the worker has told you how much your tree is, you then tell the worker at a register how much your tree is, he rings you up, you pay cash. And you're gone.

Just like that!
On your honor!
No color coding.
No nothing.
Just trust!

Bunga and Papa found theirs too.

We were able to sneak in a family photo as well!

Overall Review:
Larry's Produce was awesome for the price!
And for the produce as well.
There were a lot of people pushing their wheel barrels who were SERIOUS about their produce.
They didn't have too much patience for a mom who wanted to get some good family tree-hunting pictures:)

It was a great new adventure!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favorite Things Party

A couple weekends ago Heidi held a Favorite Things Party for a bunch of us girls.

We all were asked ahead of time to think of a favorite thing of ours and bring 5 of the same thing, wrapped and ready to give out to 5 different people.

Here is mine on the outside...

And the inside...
These are a couple of my laundry room staples.
OK so maybe I got a little made fun of for the practicality of my gift...
but I bet those ladies are already using it!

Heidi had the house all decorated. It was so warm and cozy and very "Christmas-y!"

We had festive food...

And here are a couple of the other gifts that were given...

Right up my alley...Coffee...

and Chocolate!

I did not get Brittney's scarf gift:(

But I DID get Heidi's Hot Chocolate recipe and ingredients!

It was so nice to get together with The Girls and celebrate the Season!
(I will not say what Mary gave out...but I LOVE it!)

And toward the end of the evening we had a little computer time.
I love this picture!

I am already thinking of what I am going to bring next year!