Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deck the Halls

We have fully entered holiday mode around here. We pretty easily picked our tree out. Putting the lights up on the tree was another matter- as over HALF our light strings had gone out in the last year. Don't they last more than a single season?? Sigh. After 3 trips to Target we now have our tree fully decorated, our house decorated, a wreath on the door, and beautiful poinsettias on our mantle. And yes we caved and bought this little "light fixing gun" thing that did resuscitate a few strands of lights. Isabelle and I had so much fun hanging the ornaments together- she really wants to hang them all. The challenge was to keep her focused on the nonbreakables. Last year she was all about hanging the "diamond" ornaments but this year it was all tinsel for her.

We baked 3 batches of peppermint meltaway cookies for Mat and Mark's annual Xmas party and to share with neighbors. That was 3 days of baking between the cookies, the frosting, and the candycane topping! Paul and I got a babysitter and actually attended their huge party for the first time together since Isabelle was born. It was a blast to see old friends, do some crazy "chocolate cake" shots, and get a little bit crazy.

Can't wait for Christmas to come! We are so excited to have my parents fly up this year to celebrate with us (first time for Isabelle to have them here for Christmas!) and to have my brother and sister in law here as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Family Thanksgiving

We enjoyed having tons of family in town for Thanksgiving this year. George and Leslie came up from Utah, and Shanna and her family drove in from Missoula. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with Paul's relatives on Thanksgiving morning at this quaint cabin they rented. Isabelle dressed herself from her socks to her headband with Grandma Leslie in mind. ;)

Then we headed home to cook our turkey. Michael and Angela joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and came just in time to help out with some of the final cooking! It was fun to have them helping in the kitchen and really made Thanksgiving dinner special to have them finally settling in here in Seattle. Following her preschool's tradition, we went around the table picking one thing we were thankful for. Isabelle was thankful for her school. :) What a difference a year makes! This year we enjoyed our best turkey yet (a Diestel from PCC), made a maple syrup glazed sweet potato with pecans recipe, and had the usual homemade cranberries, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Isabelle helped me bake Grandpa Tom's cheesecake recipe. After Isabelle went to bed, we enjoyed playing Cranium with Michael and Angela.

The rest of the holiday weekend we spent with Shanna's family and George and Leslie. Black Friday we braved the downtown malls with George and Leslie and enjoyed seeing the huge live Christmas tree lit, as well as street performers etc. Isabelle loved every second of shopping the kids department at Nordstroms, and was treated to a Lowly Worm doll and a little backpack suitcase with a hippo attached from her grandparents.

Saturday we met everyone for a nice brunch in Fall City and then headed back to our place to play. Isabelle couldn't get enough of holding little Savanna! And she was more excited about playing with Archer than anything else. I had a blast playing with Archer and teaching him how to use chopsticks and my heart melted when they had to leave and he kept crying "want to play more with Jenn!". Too sweet. George and Leslie took us all to see Isabelle's second movie ever- the Muppets. She ultimately enjoyed it, and keeps singing "Menomeno" and pretending she's Beaker, but was definitely a little scared by the previews, sitting on my lap for half the movie.

Sunday, George and Leslie treated Isabelle to her very first Build a Bear! She was beside herself with excitement as she zoomed around the store looking at all her options for outfits and shoes. She pretty quickly chose about the ugliest bear there, covered in rainbow colored hearts- but we wanted to let her choose. ;) She decided her bear "Joey" needed to have pom-pom snowboots and a cinderella dress. Leslie added in the "glass slippers" so she could be fancy too. It was such a sweet and generous treat- Isabelle adores this new bear and can't wait to hear her say "I love you" over and over again. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Pagliacci's on their way out of town.We truly felt blessed to have such wonderful time with so much of our family this Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Being Thankful

We just celebrated the start of Thanksgiving at Isabelle's preschool this morning where they held a "Harvest Feast" for the kids. The older kids at the preschool made a "stone soup" (aka vegetable soup with one stone in it they remove to parallel the children's story about sharing) for Isabelle's class, and Isabelle and her friends got to churn their own butter today! She told me they used baby food jars filled with cream and got to dance and shake their jars to music until they turned into butter. Then they got to eat their butter on cornbread muffins during their feast.

When we arrived we got to watch the kids participate in a "thankful" ceremony where each kid gets to choose a stone from a basket and place it on a plate (that became the centerpiece during the feast), and say one thing they are most thankful for. Isabelle was thankful for her cousins giving her her new wallet. ;) Others were thankful for their mommies, their grandma, their brother, legos, and candy. ;) Way too cute!

The kids had made turkey leaf decorations to hold their spot at the table and "hand and feet" turkey placemats. It was such a special day and reminded us both of how lucky we were to have found such a special preschool for Isabelle.


Yes I will finally try to post in the same month as when exciting events occurred. I just am so blown over by all the things we have going on in Sept and October that I'm still catching up! Will make this one brief in the interest of moving on towards the next holiday this week. ;)

Isabelle LOVED being able to go to preschool on Halloween day dressed in costume. It was so much fun to see all the kids in their costumes- all proud to be "someone else' for a day. The best part of all was getting to attend the "spooky storytelling" session put on by the teachers at the end of the day. Paul and I were both amazed by how well all the children listened to the stories with full attention. They also got to bite donuts off a pole- which of course Isabelle delighted everyone by trying to eat the whole donut in one bite. ;)Halloween night was a little different for us this year since so many neighborhood friends have moved out of the area, it was actually the first Halloween we trick or treated as a family on our own. Isabelle was so fast this year- it wasn't even hard to make it around the block! She was equally excited to hand out candy so we tried to be home for some of that as well. Perhaps the most impressive sign of her growing up was how little she cared about her candy - she had 2 pieces while trick or treating and has never since asked for the candy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Isabelle turns 4!

October is birthday season at our house as Isabelle's birthday is only 3 days before Paul's birthday. This year Isabelle and I made a homemade coconut cake with cream cheese frosting for both of their birthdays. We had so much fun baking it together and as you can see from the pictures Isabelle is a big fan of cake batter and frosting! ;)
It is so very hard to believe my baby is already 4 years old. She was sick on her birthday so we kept her home from school, but still wanted to do something fun for her so we took her out to breakfast at Chaces and she was excited to order a "teddy bear pancake." When it arrived she announced that she got a special "owl pancake" instead! Who knows what the difference was! We opened presents and played with them most of the day and took her to her choice of restaurant for dinner which was (of course) Red Robin.We gave her a big girl doll stroller so she can continue to take her babies on walks in the neighborhood without tripping over, a tea kettle that "boils" and makes pouring sounds, a cash register toy, a new boardgame, some fingerpaint projects, a princess crown, a new harmonica, and some fairy tale story cards. She especially seemed excited about her kettle and stroller and couldn't wait to use them both. She was beyond excited about her new Halloween Hello Kitty and "shiny" boots from Grandpa George & Grandma Leslie. Mimi & Papa sent her a wonderful hotwheels parking garage for her to play with all the matchbox cars Uncle Michael gave to her. Grandma Madonna sent a lovely personalized book with the story being all about Isabelle and her friends having a tea party. She just received an adorable Minnie Mouse wallet from her cousins Lillian and Emma that surprised us all by including a bunch of real money inside it for her to shop with! This really highlights how grown up she's becoming the thought of her shopping for herself.The day after her birthday we celebrated with a small birthday party this year at Black Horse Art Studio. Isabelle has come to really enjoy her friends so much that we all agreed a smaller party where she could be with her closer friends would be the most fun and this party was just perfect. We had 8 kids who each made their own art project led by the owner of the art studio where they all painted and glittered horse-shoe paintings that were later professional lacquered. Then the kids were each able to feed a horse named Duncan who stuck his nose in through a window looking for treats! This was a blast for the kids and was amazing to see even the more scared kids overcome their fears and feed the horse. They all got to have horse-rides outside afterwards. We truly enjoyed her party this year so much as it felt so special to have such wonderful friends share the day with her.
Isabelle's favorite things at age 4 (in no order):

Playing with friends!
Preschool (finally!)
Telling us stories about her babies and animals
Helping Mommy bake
Helping Daddy in the yard
Pink, purple, and red
Sparkly anything
Board games- Candyland, Sequence, Uno
Glitter glue
Floor puzzles
Library books (yes we still have to go every week for about 60 books a time)
Her babysitters Shay, Sundaylee, and Whitney
Fancy shoes
Hello Kitty everything
Remlinger Farms amusement park rides
Lunch day at preschool
Riding her balance bike (fully balancing!)
Gymnastics class
Swimming in Maui (who doesn't love this!?)
Visiting family in Utah and Montana

Things Isabelle has learned to do this year:

Ride her balance bike fully balancing!
Zipping up her coat
Fully dressing and undressing self on own
Nighttime potty-trained herself at 3.5
Reading her name and beginning to spell out letters
Holding breath while swimming, advancing kicking etc in water
Has first daily chore-to hang up her pajamas in the morning
Learning to write her name
Cleans up toys each night before bed (may have done this before but less consistently)
Can cut out patterns really well
Painting and coloring skills and interest have increased dramatically

Daily patterns:

Still naps most days 1.5 hours or so
Bedtime at 7:30pm and "bunny wakes up" at 7:30am- she's really good at waiting for bunny except for potty
Continues to have amazingly gourmet tastes- i.e.- went to a fancier restaurant with us recently and raved about my sunchoke soup as her favorite new soup, enjoyed sushi in Maui, and continues to love most ethnic foods
Been using 1-2-3 Magic as a form of discipline