Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Oh, no.  No it isn't.  It looked like Christmas two weeks ago, while I was busy stitching and sleeping.  But we did take some time to go out and enjoy our year's first snow.  

Or, in Vivi's case, to enjoy eating our year's first snow.
 She tried to be really sneaky about it, but we kept catching her.

I believe this was the point where she told me she was "smelling" the snow.
 According to Vivi the snow smells"reely cold."

 She would have stayed out there all night.
Hopefully we will get some more.  Or not.  It was 57 today, and I am totally fine with it.  We got to enjoy it for a couple of days.  No more needed.  Are you paying attention, Nebraska?  We're good here.

Shades of Maria

I title this post lovingly...and with a new sense of understanding.  

If you read my sister's blog, you know that she has churned out quite a few hand made costumes/gifts/toys/clothes for her children, nieces and nephews, family and friends.  Upon looking at them, you would never sense the sleepless nights, cursing, and umpteen trips to the fabric store that brought them to their (always fabulously) wrapped package.

Inspired by her success and my new found love of Pinterest (I'm sorry, what?  You're not on Pinterest?  Go.  Go now.  I will invite you, it is amazing), I decided I would make everyone gifts this year.  And I had a blast doing it.  But let me tell you, it came down to the wire.  I was sewing the final stitches the night of the 23rd, round abouts midnight.

But they turned out awful cute.

There they are, interweb.  My poor excuse as to why I have been such a crap blogger since early November.  And, because my madness knows no bounds, we're actually missing a pillow.  I made a 7th for April, Jean's daughter, and wrapped it before I realized no one would believe i did this if I didn't document the whole thing.
Only the pillow bodies were machine-sewn; everything else was done by hand.  And THAT'S why I have been absent.  And while the eye's on Vivi's pillow are a bit Children of the Corn-esque (perhaps a darker, or greyer blue?), I had a blast making them.
Merry Christmas to all the littles!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breakfast with...the Man in Red

So, because we are glutton for punishment, Russ and I drug Vivi, Kate, Noah, and Brandon to the Haymarket's Breakfast with Santa again this year.  Now for those of you who don't remember, last year's photo with Santa did not go well.  Exceptionally unwell.

And this year?
Not a huge smile, but boy will I take this over the banshee shriek we had last year.  Our secret?  Have Noah go first. Monster bait via the cousin.

Also featured this year?  A model train.
Fellow parents, perhaps you can shed some light on to why the hell this is so fascinating.  It was literally a 4-foot track with a train that went in a circle.  No tunnels, no bells, no whistles...and Vivi would have been happy to skip breakfast and spend the whole morning watching this train.  I just. Don't. Get. It.

Still.  Breakfast with Santa was a success, and we had a blast!
Christmas is way, way more fun when you have a little.  :)


So, the month of December has been flying by.  We have been busy, busy Ottos.

But as crazy as a month of a month as it has been, we took time out to put up the tree as a family.  I used to love doing this with my family, and am really glad it is becoming part of our Christmas tradition.

Here, Vivi and her new Lobster Purse (yes, you read that correctly and it is awesome) explore the beauty that is our Christmas tree.

While Russ and I handled the more breakable ornaments, we did save some non-breakable ornaments for her to hang.  She was very excited and took it very seriously.

She was so gentle with everything, and was so excited to be a big helper.

And then the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...
...and the Ottos were decked out with sweet Christmas flare!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Tale of Two Expressions

In what I thought to be quite a witty move, we had Vivi practice doing "Happy Smiles" before going to take the cousin photo.

She really has a nice little smile.
Number of Happy Smiles captured at the cousin photo?  Very few.  Number of grumpy frowns captured  at the cousin photo?
Many, my friends.  Many.


We interrupt this regularly scheduled Thanksgiving re-cap to bring you this amazing news story:

Did the celestial angels  just burst into song at your house?  Because I'm pretty sure they just did here.

We are so proud of you, Vivi!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cousin Photos

While everyone was in town, we decided to take a cousin photo!  We hadn't attempted such a feat since Noah was about 6 months old...well before the time of Vivi and Charlie.  When Grandpapi brought it up, we all wondered why we hadn't done it in so long.

Turns out that it may be easier once they are older and more directable.  Ty, Shawn, Eva and Noah were all great.  Our darling, adorable wild cards, Vivi and Charlie...hit or miss.  Mostly, miss.

But more on this later.

We get our photos taken at a place where you can actually view your photos and then have them printed in the same day.  It's great, really.  But wrangling 6 small ones while trying to make a decision among 6 people is difficult.  So I hung back and watched the small ones play.  It was actually pretty cute.

The great thing about kids is that they can find SOMETHING to entertain themselves.  Most of the time.  In this case, a festive lighted ficus became the fun focus.  Vivi and Eva played "Jungle Kids."  This seemed to involve a lot of hiding.

Eva was very careful to explain "Jungle Kids" to Vivi, who had never played before.  Vivi listened very carefully.

Shawn also dropped by to play in the ficus.  Amazingly, he brought his own fish.  Jungle Kids apparently LOVE fish.

Unfortunately, "Jungle Kids" was brought to a screeching halt when all three Jungle Kids figured out how to break off the rocks from the fake ficus and attempted to feed them to Shawn's fish.
I kid you not, this discovery was almost simultaneous.  Time to re-focus, kids!  Before Mommy/Aunt Anna gets to buy a ficus!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Day of Feasting...

Thanksgiving!  Hurray!

It was really fun this year (and every year, really).  All the Ottos came to town and partied it up with the Careys!  GrandMary and GrandPapi were brave enough to let EVEN MORE people come to their house, and we all had a really nice, relaxing day.  I am very, very thankful for both of my families.

Of course, everyone brings their own special item for Thanksgiving, and Aunt Becky made some delicious sweet potatoes with a pecan and brown sugar topping (a-mazing).  She also had some help from the world's cutest pilgrim.
Vivi made her pilgrim hat for the Thanksgiving celebration at daycare, and basically refused to take it off for a good 24 hours.  I finally had to take and hide it.

There are lots of steps to cooking.  Fortunately, Aunt Becky had A LOT of help (and a lot of patience).  First, you have to stir everything up.

Next, you need to give it a good sniff, to make sure everything smells juuuust right...
Vivi took this part very seriously.

And last of all, you have to give it a tiny taste test, just to make sure everything is perfect.

And the result?  Did she like it?  Was it fit to grace Vivi's Thanksgiving plate?
Happy Smile!  A solid vote of approval.  Hurray!

~Spoiler Alert~
* You might be thinking my next post will contain a bunch of darling photos of Vivi and her cousins, and of all of the adults hanging out and enjoying eachother's company.  It won't.  Don't hold your breath.  While all of these things happened, I managed to leave my camera at home and did not get a single shot.  Headdesk.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's Baaaack!

So...Russ was gone for a week.  Aunt Kate and Noah were kind enough to move in with me for the entire time (seriously, seriously kind).  But Vivi (and I) missed Russ a lot.  So we were both very excited when he came home.  Vivi spent some quality time hanging out with Russ and playing.  I wanted to get some quality photos, but Vivi refused to take her "helmet" off of her head.  Cookie and Russ were quite upset by this.

Finally, after laughing manically in to her helmet for a bit, she did allow for a photo.
Kind of.

They did have a very nice time playing together, hanging out, sharing hats...

...and demonstrating our newest trick.  Vivi really likes to demonstrate her two favorite expressions.  We can exhibit "Grumpy Frown," and "Happy Smile."  Guess which one we've got going on here.
Not that we can get this in a professional photo shoot.  Heaven forbid.  Welcome home, Russ!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I know, I know.  Two posts in one day.  The thing is, I figured you might want to see some Halloween photos before we put up our Christmas tree.

This year, Vivi went as Twink (Rainbow Brite's sidekick), and I made her costume.  With a lot of assistance from Grandma Otto.  It turned out DARLING!

Russ and I were worried that with her natural shyness towards strangers, trick-or-treating would not go well.  However, she proved to be a total natural, and was knocking on doors like she'd been trick-or-treating for years.
She LOVED it.

We went all through the neighborhood and to Aunt Erin's where we met up with a group of hooligans.
Clearly the Halloween fright mob was out and about!

Then we went over to Grandmary and GrandPapi's house and met up with Spiderman.  It was very cute to see these two enjoying Halloween together!
Although Noah looks more excited about things than Vivi.

She was, however, horrified when she found out that despite her best efforts she was not able to steal all of GrandPapi's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
To be honest, I was pretty horrified too.  I thought we had trained for this scenario.

Happy Halloween to the cutest little Sprite around!


And the most important part of the pumpkin patch?

Giant, amazing pumpkin houses!  She was fascinated.  And oh yes, there were pumpkins.

And Vivi had to organize them.

"I'll just put this one over here..."
This went one for quite some time.

And in the end, she found a special little pumpkin to snuggle with and take home...
I truly, truly love the pumpkin patch.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Cut Above the Rest

Also featured at the pumpkin patch?  Cut-outs.  Lots of them.  You can't really move 10 feet without running into a cut out planted to illustrate whatever area you are wandering through at the time.  And Vivi was really, really into them this year.

At first, not so much.  Grumpiest.  Dragon.  Ever.

But she soon warmed up to the cut-outs and embraced them.  Quite literally. 
She was really, really into this dragon and kept insisting that she "ride" him.

She insisted that I also embrace these cut-outs.  Literally.  She thought these dwarfs looked "sad and grumpy," and refused to move from the spot until I have them hugs so they would "feel better already."
Let me tell you what kind of looks you get when you're a 31 year old on crutches hugging wooden dwarfs while your two year old hollers, "This is a GREAT idea, Mommy!"  Very weird.  I promise.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Might as Well Jump!

I know, I know!  Two posts in one day!  But this madness really couldn't wait.  This year our Pumpkin Patch introduced something totally awesome....Jumping Pillows.  The Jumping Pillows were exactly what the sound like...10 feet by 20 feet of rubbery, air-filled goodness that you scrambled to the top of and jumped to your heart's content.

At first, she was a little weirded out (shocker), and wanted Russ to hold her and jump.
Which she obviously quite enjoyed.  But she soon got brave and asked to go down and have Daddy help her jump.

Turns out, Daddy can help you get some pretty big jumps in.
She was laughing so hard, it was hilarious.

And when one is a little tired and wants a break, the Jumping Pillows are excellent places to rest and make new friends.
Just a quick chit-chat before we continue on...

Fun for all...adults and kids!

As I am still gimped up, Russ was Vivi's partner in crime for all activities at the Pumpkin Patch.  I must admit, I was a little jealous, as some of the activities looked like and absolute blast.

For example...
Going down the 40-foot slide.  Purely for Vivi's sake, of course.  Because she looks like she's having the better time in this photo.

Or, going on a train ride around the entire pumpkin patch.
Awesome!  Honestly, I could have gone on this one, but the woman next to me kept making snarky comments about how little kids were having to wait in line because every mom/dad/grandma/friend, etc had to pile on with each child.  And while I found her rather rude, I kind of agreed.  So I stayed behind.

One also needs a parent to play "field bunker" with the haystack.
"Dad, the enemy is close.  I say at dawn, WE CHARGE."

And someone needs to catch you when you jump off of said haystack!

Other activities I was okay with missing out on.  My mom is from Wallace (don't feel badly if you do not know where this is, as 99.999% of the world is right there with you).  I have sat upon my fair share of tractors.
However, I am not sure I ever sat there with such an adorable sense of determination.  John Denver, eat your heart out!