Christmas Eve 2015

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Christmas Eve turned out to be a nice and low key day. Elin was feeling back to her normal self which was such a relief! She spent the day playing and making sugar cookies before time to get over to Nanny and Papa’s house for the Christmas Eve celebration there.

Dinner was first which is always hard to explain to the kids that eating comes before the present opening.

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I was so excited that Elin ate her ham and veggies well. She has not had much of an appetite with her sickness lately.

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This year the kids drew numbers and whoever’s turn it was would go first and open all their presents before moving on to the next person. Elin was last but did such a good job watching everyone else open their presents.

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Elin was so excited to see that the stockings were filled! She noticed the Peppa pig stuffed animal right away and was dying to get to it as soon as she saw it.

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She was excited to see she got her first Calico Critter set. She has been eyeing these for months. Little did she know that Santa would bring several more sets and a dollhouse for them the following day.

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One of the first gifts she asked for was a Peppa Pig house. She was very excited to receive it and needed  the help of her cousin Max to lift it up for pictures.

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One item she didn’t ask for but turned out to be a hit was a shopping cart. She has one at Nanny’s house but doesn’t have one at home. She also received a new cash register to play with and I think is she is going to love playing with those together. For now she has been loading up her toys in it and giving them a spin around the house. Occasionally they fall through the cracks leaving trails of smaller toys in her wake.

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When we got home it was so hard to get her to stop playing long enough to get ready for bed. We were all up late but anxious to see what Santa would bring Elin in the morning.

Chicago Trip

We just got back from a long weekend in Chicago! It was Elin’s first time there and we thought it would be a fun place to visit during the holiday season.

We have all been sick with endless coughing and congestion, but the day before our trip we took Elin to the pediatrician because she was rubbing her eye and sure enough she not only had an eye infection but a double ear infection. Not a fun way to start out on a long weekend trip. We actually debated not going, but ultimately decided that she seemed to be ok and therefore we should keep on with our plans.

We left on a Thursday morning and stayed until Saturday late afternoon/early evening. We stayed at the MileNorth which was nice and close in walking distance to Michigan Avenue and all the shopping.

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Elin was a fan of the room and loved running and jumping into the bed over and over.

One of our first stops was the mall that housed the American Girl store. I knew Elin was going to be excited to explore the store with all the extensive displays. She loved it and we we had a hard time getting her out of the store!

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She is getting a bitty baby for Christmas and I hope she likes it as much as she does in the store.

While I picked up a couple of accessories to go with her doll, she ventured over to the lego store and spent a long time in there playing in their play areas.

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After some more shopping in the mall, we went to Smith and Wollensky for dinner which is one of our favorites. Elin wasn’t feeling up to eating much, so she missed out on some yummy steak which is a shame because she actually likes steak.

The next day we went in the morning to the Christkindl Market. It was very interesting but already very crowded and we got there shortly after it opened. Elin really enjoyed looking at the Nativity there. There was a sign out from that said it was the second largest nativity scene on display.

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I was really impressed that Elin could name off several of the figures. I guess the parochial preschool is paying off.

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Inside the market there were lots of vendors with traditional German food and Christmas decor for sale. There were lots of beautiful hand-painted ornaments.

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After walking around for a bit in the market we had to get over to the Macy’s on State Street nearby for reservations to see Santa and reservations to eat lunch at the famous Walnut Room. Here is a little blurb about the restaurant taken from the Macy’s on State Street website:

The Walnut Room has the distinction of being the first restaurant in a department store, and it’s also the longest continuously running restaurant in the country. Opened in 1907, the popular dining and gathering spot was originally known as the South Tea Room. It became known among the ladies of Chicago as The Walnut Room due to its beautiful Circassian Walnut paneling, and by 1937 the affectionate nickname had become the official name. A chicken pot pie dish that inspired the restaurant is still a standout on the menu. The world-famous 45-foot Great Tree graces The Walnut Room from late November to early January each year.

We had heard that it was very hard to get into the restaurant without reservations and they stopped taking them by phone for Christmas back in November, so the the only way to get in was to show up the day you wanted to eat there make reservations in person. We were lucky enough to get lunch reservations without a problem.

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The tree in the center of the restaurant was gorgeous and we enjoyed the decor as we ate. The food was good as well.

They had North Pole fairies visiting the tables with children. The fairy that stopped at our table told Elin all about living at the North Pole and knowing Santa. She sprinkled some magic fairy dust and had Elin close her eyes to make her Christmas wish. Elin’s face cracks me up with how hard she was closing her eyes and concentrating.

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She also gave her a tiny marble that was magical and anytime Elin wanted to talk to Santa or send him a wish, she would just wish on her new magic marble and the fairy would hear the message. Elin was pleased as punch about this and I worried the whole day that she was going to lose that dang marble. By the grace of God we made it home with it.

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After our lunch it was finally our reservation time to go meet Santa. This Macy’s was so festive and they made everything so cute with their displays. There was whole fun little Christmas maze we walked through to get to Santa. There was so much to look at with little replicas of Santa’s house and cute decor.

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Finally it was time to see Santa and Elin had a lot of fun talking to him.

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He gave her a little pin as a gift that she loved

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She was just too happy and excited to be talking to him.

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After seeing Santa, we went out into the children’s section where they had lots of fun activities going on. They had someone making balloon animals, an ornament making station, characters walking around, and of course the red mailbox to mail a letter to Santa. Even though she had just seen him, Elin thought she should go ahead and send him a a letter with her list.

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We couldn’t leave the store without visiting the snoopy display inside and out side the store.

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After some more walking around and shopping, we went back to our room in the later afternoon to let Elin rest a bit and then went to dinner at a nice Italian place and walked around the city some more. We were blessed with very nice weather during our whole trip.

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I don’t have any photos from our last day but we walked around the city and enjoyed all the beautiful Christmas sights.

On our drive home Elin was sleeping and she she woke up, got into a coughing fit, and vomited a few times all over herself in the car. Not a great end to a trip. Luckily we were able to pull over at a rest stop and get her all cleaned up and new clothes on and there was no more sickness in the car after that. We were lucky I guess that she wasn’t sick during the trip and got to enjoy herself.

Elin’s First Nutcracker and Pottery with Santa

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Two weeks ago we took Elin to see her first Nutcracker ballet. She was super excited and I got some cute shots of her in front of her little tree in her room. Her dress is from Christmas last year but I couldn’t resist using it again since it still fit her.

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When we got to the ballet they had a beautiful tree in the lobby.

Elin did so good during the whole performance. She sat quietly and watched perfectly. She was so cute and clapped at the end of each dance. When I asked her after about the story, she seemed to understand it well and explained it all to me.

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The performance ended very late since it didn’t start until 8 pm and she feel asleep almost immediately once we got to the car.

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The next day we went to a Santa and Me painting experience at a new pottery painting place in town. Elin has already been a few times with her Nanny so she seemed to know exactly what to do. We meet up with her friend Kelsey and she had fun talking to Santa with her.

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These two seemed to have a such a good time together. I have no idea why they started laughing so hard but they sure were cracking each other up!

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As soon as we finished up there we went to Home Depot for another Kids Workshop. This time Elin made a little stacker toy and she loves it. She plays with it all the time. We are looking forward to see what projects they have lined up in 2016.

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Spreading Cheer with Cookies

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We are now well into December and the holiday season and Elin and I have already been thinking about baking and making cookies. She has really been talking about it a lot and so I finally thought it was time to make good old sugar cookies–frosted, of course!

Those have always been my favorite kinds of cookies at Christmas and Elin loves getting to cut the shapes out of the dough and putting the frosting on.

I wanted to be fast and efficient this year since we have so much going on that I just picked up Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie mix and their vanilla frosting. As well as some their decorating icings.

Here is a coupon code if you would like to get some this holiday season.

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Elin was so good at putting in the ingredients.

As we were making the cookies, we discussed who she would like to give them to as a surprise and to spread cheer and she picked her Nanny and Papa. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she realized if she picked them as recipients she knew she spends time at their house and might get to eat some of the cookies with them.

No, I’m sure that never crossed her mind.

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I got brave and let her stir. Thankfully she kept it all contained and in the bowl.

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Here are a couple of our creations. I must say they turned out so delicious!!!

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Here they are all packaged up and left on Nanny and Papa’s porch for a sweet treat.

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We have enjoyed giving Betty Crocker cookie mixes a try and we hope you enjoy this coupon.

Also, Betty Crocker would like to give one reader a $20 gift card for the holiday season. Rules:
• Create a #SpreadCheer basket and post an original photo of it on your social channels with the hashtag #SpreadCheer (and also nominate your friends by tagging).
• Confirm your entry by commenting on your blog discussing who you chose to #SpreadCheer to AND a link back to your social post.

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Jolly Days 2015

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The day after Thanksgiving we took Elin to the children’s museum to experience the jolly days fun. She loved her first experience last year and so we made sure to get it in early this year since we are so busy with activities leading up to Christmas.

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Everything was decorated beautifully as always. It was extra busy because this was the first day that Santa arrived! After walking in, we made our way to Santa right away to make sure to see him.

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She was not shy about running up to him and telling him all the things she was hoping for. I could hear her talking about Calico Critters house and baby dolls.

After Santa, she went to play in the ice castle, the ice skating rink, and the kitchen. It’s funny because she didn’t care for the fake ice rink last year but this year she loved it and really pretended to ice skate for awhile.

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She spent a long time in the kitchen area. That seems to be a favorite of all the kids.

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I love this pic of her checking out the miniature town and train display with her Papa.

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Elin stood in the long lines and rode down the slide 4 times! I think she would have done it several more times but the line was about 15-20 mins long which was a long time for her.

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We stayed much longer this year and explored several different areas of the museum. Elin did not want to leave at all because she was having so much fun but we finally got her out of there with a last time checking out the big snow globe.

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