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Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Can't Believe You Are So Old!!!

I really get it now why people go on and on about how old/big kids are after not seeing them for a while.  On Monday and Tuesday I got to see two of my old students (they were in 3rd grade then--aged 8/9) and their families.  And, I'm embarrassed to say that the best thing I could think of to say was, "Oh my gosh!  I can't believe how big they are!"  UGH!  But, it's SO true!  

On Monday my mom, Jackson and I met the Masnatos at Northbrook Court.  (Laura was my student and is now in 7th grade.  Her sister, Christina, and her mom, Maria, were there too.)  We sat and chatted for a bit (Jackson was kept quite busy with his new Melissa and Doug cookie making set the Masnatos gave him) and then wandered around letting Jackson explore.  

The mall had their beautiful holiday decorations up still so we enjoyed those.  
Jackson showed Christina how good he is at taking self-portraits with my camera ;)

Jackson was also lucky enough to play with Christina's phone--she had a fun cupcake making/decorating game on there that he could play.  Once he had it figured out, he went over to show Laura.  Jackson LOVED watching the elevator go up and down with people in it.  (It was the kind where the walls were glass, so you could see in and out!)  

On Tuesday morning, the Wiedemanns came over to the house.  (Alex was my student and is now in 7th grade.  His sisters Alyssa and Ashley came over too with their mom, Jane.)  We had such a good time!  Jackson brought all of his toys over to show the kids, and they were so good with him!  

Of course, most of the toys he brought over were cars and trucks, which worked out great since the Wiedemanns brought him a rug with roads and bridges on it!  What a fun way to run his vehicles around :)  

After playing for a while, we went over to Herms (we just have to introduce as many people as possible!) for lunch.  The kids continued to be great with Jackson and hung out with him by the video games while Jane and I visited.  

It was SO nice to be reunited with some special kids/families who happen to be good friends :)
On Wednesday night, Josh and I took advantage of Mimi and Bampa's well-practiced skills and left them to babysit Jackson while we had a date night!  We drove into Chicago and saw Lincoln Park Zoo's Zoo Lights.  It was pretty chilly, but totally worth it!  We have talked about going to Zoo Lights for YEARS!  I'm so glad we got to see them!  It was really neat to be at the zoo, and the lights were so fun to watch as they were timed to music.  After the Zoo, we drove over and had dinner at Qdoba.  Then we went to Roycemore and played some basketball before picking up shakes at Herm's to end a lovely evening :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wonderland Express

 Yesterday, my mom and I took Jackson to the Chicago Botanic Garden to visit the Wonderland Express exhibit.  I told Jackson before we left that we were going to see some choo-choos (he is very intrigued by the show "Chuggington" on Disney, so trains are a hot topic right now), and he was excited the whole car ride.  He kept saying, "Choo choos!"  It snowed a crazy amount overnight on Christmas night, so the snow added to the atmosphere.  The main exhibit is indoors, but it looked like the whole garden was decorated with lights--that must have been pretty in the evening!  The indoor exhibit consisted of tons of train track with different groups of trains running around and around.  The trains ran amongst various flowers and plants and miniature replicas of Chicago monuments and landmarks.  Jackson was mesmerized right away and loved wandering around looking for the next choo-choo.  

First there was a big table with a gingerbread house town.  There was one train running around that set-up.  

The next room had the main set up with many more trains!

This was the look Jackson had on his face most of the time :)

There was one little train--Ladybug.  She was on a very certain, timed track.  One of the "engineers" taught the kids how to clap for Ladybug so she would come out.  It was SO cute!  Jackson loved watching her come by and even started clapping for her at the end.

A Lake Michigan lighthouse.

The third room had a large table set up with one train going around and around.  The decorations on the wall made it seem like you were at a train depot.  The train was eye-level, so the kids liked waiting for it and then following it around the table.

There was a room set up with a cafe and crafts.  The crafts yesterday were paper snowflake making and a station to make mini-bird feeders.  Jackson isn't ready for scissors yet, so we made a couple of bird feeders.  We strung Craisins on wires anchored with miniature pinecones.  Then we stuck birdseed on the pinecones and took them home to hang up.

Since we got such a great snow, and since Mimi had Jackson-sized snowpants waiting for him, we decided to play in the snow after Jackson woke up from his nap!  He thought it was pretty exciting getting all his snow gear.  I'm just thankful for the lack of wiggling due to his excitement ;)  He loved walking in the snow, and took off down the block in the direction of the playground.  Unfortunately, it had gotten pretty chilly so we steered him back towards the house.  Otherwise, it would have been fun for him to play in the snow at the playground!  He and Josh had a good time pushing each other over and throwing snowballs.  Sadly, Jackson face-planted in the snow as he was trying to grab a handful, so our outing ended in tears :(  Nothing a little egg nog couldn't cure once we got inside!  That kid is hooked!
The traditional family Hanukkah picture (taken a few weeks late...)!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

 Josh was really excited to get up with Jackson yesterday morning!  I definitely enjoyed a couple extra hours of sleep...  This year was pretty fun with Jackson since he enjoyed opening his presents, but had NO idea what was coming!  Next year, he will be able to look forward to Christmas and understand what's going on.  Before we started opening presents, Bampa had some fun with Jackson's remote control truck and rolled it between Jackson's legs!  Jackson thought this was pretty cool :)

As we expected, Jackson was an excellent Santa's Helper.  Josh handed him presents and told him where to take them.  It was so cute!  We started off where we left off and let Jackson open a few presents in a row.  (We like to take turns so we can watch everyone else open!)  He got some new Chuck the Truck mini-trucks and a big garbage truck to store them in.  He rolled those around for a while along with his Lil' Snoopy puppy that he can pull along behind him.  Jackson was very patient all morning while he waited for Bampa to open his toys!

Bampa got a framed collage of him and Jackson making pancakes.  (Daddy got one of him and Jackson making fudge, but the picture didn't turn out...)  

Bampa also got a new whisk to help mix pancake batter.

Let the tradition of playing with boxes begin!

Jackson did really well (for the most part) letting other people open their own presents.  He did get pretty excited about helping Mimi open a couple...  I'm also hoping that next year we can really impart the importance of not touching presents under the tree.  I kind of missed wrapping presents and putting them under the tree for a few days before Christmas...

Jackson got to open some more of his presents partway through the "grown-ups"opening.  He got the letters of his name in train form and a really cool new book: Heads by Matthew Van Fleet. Jackson and I were actually at the bookstore the other day admiring this one--how exciting to have it now to keep!

Uncle Larry got a cool new popcorn bucket that makes an excellent hat :)

After we finished opening all of the presents, we ate a yummy brunch!  I made a sausage and egg bake and my mom made apple pancake.  They were delicious :)  While Jackson napped, my dad made Tom & Jerry drinks.  It's another tradition we have :)  We played cards while we enjoyed those, and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.

Mimi found two pairs of Disneyland Mickey Mouse ears in her drawer.  Jackson LOVED wearing them all afternoon!  

Nan came over for dinner again, and we ordered Brown's fried chicken.  The streak of yummy food continues :)

Jackson also had one more present to open from his cousins in California!  He got to open it after dinner.  It was another Wow toy to add to his collection.  This one was Tow Truck Tim and Rolling Ray.  It is a tow truck and car.  The tow truck has a hook that attaches to the car and then you push a button and it tows it in.  It's really neat!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve!

We had a really nice Christmas Eve :)  We all have a little bit of a cold, which is definitely not fun :(  But, it was nice to hang around the house and relax.  Jackson and Josh got started on Christmas Eve dinner by making the pumpkin pie nice and early!  
Jackson also got a hold of a large set of bells we hang out each year.  He got such a kick out of swinging them and listening to the sound.  He even managed to make a little dance up!
Growing up, my dad's mom was still alive, and she came to stay with us for a few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  My mom's mom would come over on Christmas Eve, and we would have our big dinner then.  We also would open presents from my mom's side of the family that night.  Christmas morning presents were from my dad's mom and my aunt, uncle, and cousins in California (also my dad's side).  Even though my dad's mom isn't alive anymore, we have sort of kept that routine going.  So, Nan came over on Christmas Eve for dinner and round one of presents :)  
Paxton even got an extra treat of strewn-about Cheerios!
We let Jackson open his presents after he had dinner and a bath.  The rest of us waited until he went to bed to eat our dinner and open our presents.  I can sum up all of Christmas by saying Jackson definitely gets the hang of opening presents now!  Yay!  He had a great time ripping into his presents from Nan and his Uncle Brad and Aunt Karol (my mom's brother and sister-in-law who live in Champaign, IL).  He got some new jammies, a Fisher Price Little People farm with plenty of new people and animals, an Aqua Doodle set, Color Wonder fingerpaint, a truck book that has wheels, and some new really warm socks!  He proudly displayed his new pjs for everyone to see :)  
We got in one more Hanukkah candle-lighting before bedtime.  Even though Hanukkah was over a couple of weeks ago, my mom started moving holidays around while we were in college so we could celebrate together :)  So, she saved a few nights of candles so we could light them together.  Jackson gave Nan, Uncle Larry, and Bampa personal escorts to the candle-lighting :)
Last year, I got some great shots of Christmas Eve good-night hugs, so I made sure to get some pictures this year too.