SC Christmas + Cousins

A few weeks before Christmas we decided to road trip to South Carolina to spend the holidays with GC’s family.  We hadn’t spent Christmas with his parents since 2006.

We were in good spirits on our drive down,

2014-12-20 16.57.09

even the dog.


GC’s parents were on a cruise so we spent the first couple days in their house without them.  The Roc and his Nonna made some Christmas cookies together when they got back.


IMG_2791The Roc was very excited to be with his SC cousins for Christmas.  He was most excited to sleep at his cousins house on Christmas eve and wake up with them on Christmas morning…which is what GC and I were most worried about.  Our Christmases have always been quiet and calm.  This year would be so different and we could envision many things that could make the Roc melt.  We did a lot of prepping before we left home and crossed our fingers that things would go smoothly.  I was still worried a little until my sister-in-law Andrea texted me,

“We love Roc so much and will be there to help if he has a rough time.  It will be different for him to be here and we totally understand that.”

There is nothing like family who love your kid just as he is, understand that things may be hard for him, and are willing to step in and help.  We are so lucky.

The Roc spent Christmas eve morning playing on the iPad and continually asking when we would drive down to his auntie Andrea’s house.


When we got there the fun began.  The kids were so joyful.  The Roc and his cousins immediately got together.  They spent the night laughing and dancing.




IMG_2853The Roc and his cousin Bella even made up a dance and performed it for us.  They are so cute together.  Bella is a gift.  She is sweet, playful, and so wonderful with the Roc.  She reassures him when he is anxious and she is willing to play all night.  She is a very special girl.

IMG_2928The kids weren’t the only ones having a good time.  There was a lot of laughter in the kitchen.





Guinness found a friend in my youngest nephew Anderson!  He tried to hide his face but I captured this shot this funny little guy.


My mother-in-law shed a few tears when my brother-in-law from Colorado surprised us all and showed up!  We were so happy to see him!

IMG_2921At the end of the night the kids all opened new pjs from their Nonna and Nonno.

IMG_2931Before the kids went to bed my nephew Aiden read, “The Night Before Christmas” to all the younger kids.  Almost all of my pictures of Aiden on Christmas Eve are of his blurry face as he slid in front of the camera or waved his hand in the corner of my frame.  Except this one.  He’s a good kid.

IMG_2957A moment the Roc still talks about.

The next morning the Roc expressed some anxiety before leaving the bedroom to open presents, but after a little pep talk he told me, “Okay, I’m ready now.  Let’s do this.”

IMG_2958The kids had a blast opening up their gifts.



We spent the rest of the day eating and relaxing before we headed back to GC’s parents house.


The holiday was a success all around.  The Roc had so much fun spending time with his cousins and he was very well behaved.  As we drove out of Andrea’s neighborhood GC and I looked at each other and he said to me, “I think that was my favorite Christmas yet.”

Last year, for reasons we never figured out, the Roc had such a hard time on Christmas day.  So we are extra thankful for such a family filled fun holiday.

We made wonderful memories.



Scenes from Christmas

We had a low-key, relaxed Christmas this year.  Well, the adults were relaxed.  The Roc doesn’t possess the relax gene.  He was very excited to go to his Grandparents house for “early Christmas,” where he got one of his favorite gifts this year.  He took at bath that night, at Grandma’s house, so he could play with the shark and killer whale before we went home.


On Christmas Eve morning GC got to work in the kitchen.


He had company.


The Roc worked on a train cake while he waited for Grandma and Grandpa to come over.



Around the house.




GC spent the whole day in the kitchen.


My mom brought over a little workbook for the Roc.


Later she helped him write a note to Santa.


“Dear Santa, I am a good boy most of the time.”


We let the Roc open a couple gifts from far away relatives.  My little baker was very happy to get a cake pop maker!



Santa came after everyone else was in bed!


The Roc was very excited on Christmas morning to see all the presents under the tree.


He was especially excited that Santa brought a few things off his list.  A snowman kit,


and a snowplow!


GC and the dog watched.


Later, my parents came back over for lasagna and we all had a lot of fun playing with the Roc’s (GC’s) new remote control helicopter.



Low key, relaxed, amazing food, good conversations, and new toys.  A wonderful Christmas!

Now if only the rest of winter “break” would go as smoothly….

Holidays, a Recap

I started a post about the holidays a couple weeks ago…and never finished it.  I have a few other unfinished posts in my dashboard, a couple in my head that are screaming to get out, (basketball! swimming!) and one that I wrote in a margarita haze last night after coming home from a neighborhood gathering.  But I am a little OCD and even though no one but the Roc is thinking about Christmas anymore I just have to say something about it, and of course post a few pictures.

The Roc was pumped about Christmas, our first here in Minnesota.  He was sad that we didn’t have any snow and I felt like a HUGE liar for telling him over and over since we got here in June that we would go sledding, and build snowmen, and that he would get to play with his cousin in the snow over winter break.  The anticipation of opening those presents under the tree and waking up to find more presents on Christmas morning was enough of a balm to relieve the brown Christmas disappointment.

GC wanted to keep his family tradition of having lots and yummy seafood on Christmas Eve so he got to work in the late morning making us a lunch feast, and don’t worry, even though he looks unhappy in the following photo, he is very happy…

I took one of my favorite pictures of the Roc while trying to get GC to smile for my camera, take note GC, this is how it’s done…

I wanted to photograph the food, but GC wanted to serve it up right away.

So I settled for a pic of my two guys,

the fried goodness,

and the Roc eating a lemon (which he tried to eat after we told him that his cousin Aiden in SC used to eat lemons when he was younger!)

The Roc was so excited about the presents from our extended family under the tree, and wouldn’t stop asking if he could open some of them that we let him pick three to open before we were due at my sister’s house for Christmas Eve dinner.

We had a lot of fun at my sister’s house that night.  The boys drank and told stories before dinner,

and after dinner the kids couldn’t wait to open a few presents from family.

I got a great shot of my dad,

and after all the presents were unwrapped the little boys opened up their new art stuff and went to work.

We exited around the Roc’s bedtime knowing it would be one night that he wouldn’t balk at going to bed and staying there.  He was just a little keyed up…

but he slept the whole night through.

I woke up to a little voice whispering that there were presents under the tree at 7 am on Christmas morning.

We didn’t know if we would ever get a reaction like we did last year, but there was one thing the Roc had been asking for.  The Polar Express.

He was pretty happy to get it!

My parents came over later that afternoon and we had dinner together.

It was wonderful and relaxing and fun!

The Roc had the following week off of school for “winter break” and by the time it was over I felt like I needed a vacation!  He had lots of new toys to play with so we played a lot, and he took a long bath everyday to play with his new boats.  We went over to my parents house the day before the left for Arizona to say goodbye.  I will admit to feeling a little teary when I pulled out of the driveway, I had gotten used to seeing them on a regular basis.  I took the Roc to see a movie one afternoon and he did great, only needing to be shushed a few times.

And now it’s mid-January, it’s cold and grey and I’m dreaming of spring.

Whew, now that this holiday recap is out of the way I can concentrate on the here and now, and those two subjects that are screaming for posts of their own – basketball and swimming!

3 Holiday Laughs

3 situations that had me chuckling to myself this week:

I ran into the Roc’s special ed teacher as I was leaving the school after volunteering in the Roc’s classroom on Tuesday.  We walked down the hall together and she said to me,

“You’re house must really smell…” and felt my eyes widen as I wondered how she was going to finish that sentence, “with all that garlic on your Christmas tree!”

I instantly knew what she was talking about as I heard the Roc’s voice in my head.

“Oh, Garland!” I laughed as she said, “It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about.  He’s such a cutie and he insisted it was garlic, not garland.”


The Roc was quietly singing Jingle Bells while I loaded a movie for him to watch.  I turned around and asked him to sing louder, and sure enough,

“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way.  Oh what fun it is to ride in a wondrous sleigh, HEY!”

I giggled, but didn’t correct him.  I would like to ride in a wondrous sleigh too.


As gifts arrive from our far away relatives I place them under the Christmas tree and the Roc has been very excited about the presents with his name on them.  One of his gifts had a teeny, tiny tear in the wrapping paper and he spent some time trying to peer into that little hole.  Yesterday I was on my computer upstairs and could hear the unmistakable sound of paper slowly ripping.  I tiptoed to the railing and looked down into the family room.  There he is with that certain gift…

Later when I asked him if he was looking at the presents under the tree he said, “Yes!  Guess what Mommy?  The hole got bigger in that present!”

“Hmmm, I wonder how that happened?” I asked.

“I stuck my finger in there and tore it,” he replied.

“So what’s in there?” I asked.

“It looks pink.  I think it might be a pink dress.  It says my name on it, but I don’t want a dress.”

I love his honesty.  Any other kid would have lied and said they didn’t do it, someone else did, or the dog ripped it.  That’s what I would have done at his age!


On The Eve

The energy has been crackling in the air all day long…and what a long day it seemed to be, for both me and the Roc, who is beyond excited for Christmas.  Who really and truly “get’s it” this year, who has wanted something specific, asked for it repetitively, and even asked Santa when we saw him at our favorite store (with a lot of help from Mom and Dad.)  He jumped around the house all day long today, jumped on my bed, jumped on the couch, jumped on his trampoline.  Jumped and jumped and jumped, talking all the while.  Jumped and crashed on the couch and my bed telling me “look Mommy, I learnded to fly!”  We went for a walk and delivered cards to our neighbors and he said “Merry Christmas” to everyone.  He didn’t want to talk about what he asked Santa for, but he was willing to tell everyone that he would be having lobster butt for dinner.  (Even though he tried a bit of lobster, he wouldn’t eat it, preferring to stick to pasta.)  After many, many requests to open a present from his Great Aunt and Uncle that had been sitting under the tree all week, we finally told him it was time and he could open 3 presents from family and friends.

He was e.x.c.i.t.e.d.

and ready to go!

The best reaction was when he saw the combine tractor picture my sister got for his room.  Look at his face!

We also opened the gifts that the Roc got for us at the little holiday shop the PTO set up at school.  The Roc didn’t remember what he got for us, but he was so cute saying, “Here you go Mommy!  Merry Christmas!”  He gave GC a sports frog and I got a Mom pen and a Mom notepad, so adorable!

For the first time in a long time, the Roc didn’t try to stall bedtime at all and not long after shutting out the light he was fast asleep…and then Santa came…

I do hope Santa visits your house too!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!! (a recap)

The Roc asked for three things for Christmas this year.  The first year he actually asked for something in particular, a milestone I celebrated by buying every item he asked for.  Though I’m sure most parents try their best to honor the Christmas wishes of their children, there is something especially significant about the wishes of a boy who almost never asks for anything (except lollipops).  A boy who despises Toys R Us and refuses to go inside.  He asked for a Spider-Man couch, a purple hippo, and the Kohls Cares stuffed animals – the mouse, cat, moose, and pig that go with his favorite “If you give A…” books.  Those four stuffed animals were a late addition to his wish list which happened after we were at Kohls shopping and he saw them at the checkout, grabbed them, and then cried and had a mini meltdown when he couldn’t bring them home.  I smiled to myself as GC escorted the Roc from the building because those four stuffed animals were already in our storage closet.  Score!  So I was pretty excited to see if this was the year the Roc would actually be interested in what was under the wrapping paper versus the wrapping paper itself.

Like most parents GC and I were up late on Christmas Eve busy with the last minute wrapping and placing of gifts under the tree.  So when GC got up with the puppy in the early morning hours I reminded him to turn on the tree so it would be lit up when the Roc came out of his room in the morning.  He’s been coming downstairs in the mornings on his own (that’s new!) and I had asked him when I put him to bed if he would be coming down to my bedroom in the AM, and he whispered “Yes” as I shut his door.  Sure enough, I heard his door open and then a looooonnnngggg pause where he must have been stupefied by the presents under the tree in the family room below, and then I heard his little feet hit the first floor and go pitter patter down the hall to our room.

“Mommy!  There’s presents under the tree!  LOTS of presents!!  And there’s a BIG one!  A BIG RECTANGLE one behind the tree!!!”

Oh boy was he excited.

We trooped into the family room and ohhh and ahhhed at the amount of gifts Santa had brought.

The Roc waited patiently for the go ahead.

And then the opening began!

Look!  A mouse!  I wanted one of these!

What about this big one?  Back here?

Not yet? Okay, I’ll open the smaller ones first.

What is it?  A Behaviors with Friends video from Nonna and Nonno!  Perfect!

This one’s from Aunt Sandy and Uncle Allen.

Aunt Sandy sure does use some strong tape…!

Getting there…

It’s an ostrich!!

Let’s keep going!  A book!

I wonder what’s in this one?

The PIG!!!!!!!

And the MOOSE!

I like him!

LOOK!  It’s a…


Half way done.  A few more to go.

What’s is this?


A bathtub fountain!

Almost done.  Here comes that BIG one!

A bike!

One present left!

The Spider-Man couch!!

The Roc GOT it this year!  He was so excited to see what was under the wrapping paper and it wasn’t until hours later (as I was starting this post) that he played in the wrapping paper.

One of his favorite gifts is a little bathtub fountain that I found at a neat little toy store/teacher supply store in early fall.  As soon as I saw it I just knew that my water obsessed son would love it.

Upon swallowing the last bite of his french toast he was begging to take a bath and play with the fountain.  I was worried that it wouldn’t work, but it does.

and he LOVES it!

That smile is the best gift!

We relaxed the rest of the day and played with Guinness in the kitchen,

and then played some of the new games the Roc got for Christmas.

GC had to do some game assembly,

while Guinness supervised.

The Roc went to bed with all his new animals tucked around him.  GC and I were asleep by 10!  It was a good day.

Happy Holidays!