Holiday review

Ah, it's January 1st.  That glorious day when we day dream of all the ways we are going to improve our selves and our lives throughout the entire next year.  I'm loving that it's 2016 because it's our "Sweet '16".  My actual sweet 16 was suuuuper awkward with lots of adults making that horrid joke about being "16 but never been kissed".  It was true and I didn't know how to take that joke.  I hope I can stop myself from ever using that "canned phrase" when the kids in my life hit that milestone :)

However, now that the year is '16, I plan on getting LOTS of kisses and focusing my year on joy.  I'm going to clamp my lips on sharing negative observations and intentionally share heartfelt compliments.

It's easy to feel positive and joyful as we wind down our holiday celebrations. 

As I'm uploading pics, I'm realizing that between my actual camera, phone and iPad...things have gotten quite scattered!  I'll do my best to give a fair representation, but my patience can only handle so much uploading (alas, showing more patience is not a New Years resolution for me :)

We started with a little music video when Hazel lost her 2 front teeth!  For the rest of the Christmas season, she was leery about singing this song out loud because she didn't want Santa to think that's what she actually wanted :)

 Thanks to Llama (Grandma Orris) for playing the accompaniment.  Can you find Santa AND baby Jesus?

Next it was time for Thanksgiving, which is the Orris family FAVORITE holiday because for the past 28 years or so, it has been celebrated with the Lehman family.  Feasting, talking, LAUGHING, napping, snacking... TRADITIONS :) 

Dick joined us a few days early and got to join me as Hazel's "plus 2" for her classroom Thanksgiving feast.  Hazel was super excited for her Grandpa Dick to see what a big girl she has become.  As a formal elementary school principal and most importantly, my dad's best friend, I'm pretty sure it was a really special moment for him too.
 This year was extra special for me because Whitney flew home from London to be with us.  I heart her.

Then it was time to celebrate my mom's (Llama) birthday and Christmas before she headed to Germany to spend the holiday with my sister and niece.
spoiler alert:  it's an Easy Bake Oven

This year the girls decorated wooden spoons for their teachers and grandparents.  It's our best "kid made" gift yet!  They drew their designs with pencil and I traced it with my Grandpa Krumich's old wood burner.
 Next we headed to my Grandma Krumich's assisted living home for their family Christmas party.  It's our 2nd year going and a wonderful event!  The girls talked with Santa, made cookies, rode in a horse drawn carriage, did crafts, listened to a bell choir, and spent time with their Great Grandma (Gigi).
Both girls asked for "real fairy wings and real fairy dust".

We filled the rest of December with other non-snow related traditions like making ginerbread cookies, decorating the house, reading Christmas books, our Advent calendar, and new-this-year...our very own ELF ON THE SHELF!  We held off the past few years because WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT?!?  This year however, Hazel was begging and pleading for me to stop "turning away the house elf and just having the window elves that watched us from the windows sporatically".  So, we invited one to stay with us.  The girls named him Elfie.  Jake had the most fun with Elfie, but sometimes Uncle Josh and I took turns.  The photo below is what Elfie left us on his last night...a self portrait.  It immediately inspired Hazel.

On Christmas Eve, we headed to Gibsonia to celebrate the traditional Kosker way...with "Valea" a Polish feast.  It is such a lovely evening.  Jake's cousin, Suzanne and her husband, Steve, host.  The kids love seeing each other, running around thoroughly ignored by the chatting adults.  The adults love catching up and digging in to the feast prepared by Suzanne's brother, Joseph.

It appears that we coordinated the kids outfits...we didn't.  However oldest girls dressed in black w/sparkles & youngest girls dressed in red w/sparkles.  Good sport William, complimented the ensembles perfectly too :)

Moving on to our Kosker quartet's Christmas morning.  I'm pretty sure that we say this every year, but we really tried to have a SMALL Christmas!  Here's our grrraaannnd (sigh...JACOB) tree all ready for the kids to wake up.
 Fortunately, when a bouncing, shrieking Hazel careened down the stairs, she yelled back to us, "There are THOUSANDS of presents!!!!" and a slightly sleepy Heidi declared, "I must've been soooo good this year!".

So, that mommy guilt was for naught and I'm glad that my children felt the blessings we were able to share with them to the fullest intent!
 Hazel got a hand sewing kit from us!  She's been eager to learn.  After her first lesson, her interest waned, but we'll get back to it eventually and she'll be creating stuff animals in no time :)  (Heidi's main gift from us was a doll that comes with her own zipline)

 Here's Heidi trying on her "real fairy wings".  The "real fairy dust" is a necklace that is a tiny glass bottle with a miniature look-a-like fairy in it for each girl along with some of that magic dust.  One slight problem is that the girls think they can now fly and I've had to sternly lecture them about testing that theory. 

When the presents were all unwrapped, Hazel was looking dejected.  She really wanted some Star Lilly talking unicorn that cost about $100.  While she valiently tried to overcome this disappointment (she did tell Santa about it...I found out), Jake and I snuck away and returned with two bundles containing... GUINEA PIGS!  Hazel said "this is WAY better!" when asked about her Star Lilly disappointment later that morning :)

Jake and I had been discussing getting the girls a small pet and were hemming and hawing about it a few weeks before Christmas when my friend Erin randomly asked if we wanted her 2-year-old guinea pigs.  It's a bit of a big responsibility for all of us (especially this non-animal-lovin' mama who seems to be the main care taker), but the girls are IN LOVE and so far they are perfect, quiet, gentle pets!

I refused to let Jake wrap the guineas in their ball or a large box after growing up on the Orris family legend of the time that my Grandpa Orris wrapped his daughter's hamster on Christmas Eve and it was dead by Christmas morning.  Rumor has it, my Aunt Val said "oh cute, it's sleeping!".  hahaha...did NOT want to repeat that one!

Christmas afternoon, Jake left for work and the girls and I headed to visit Gigi.  She had saved her presents to open with us, so it was a very nice visit.  My Grandma's dementia is getting worse and her body is tired, but the girls bring her lots of joy and I like to soak up these memories!

On Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa Baird came to visit!  
 Of all the wonderful gifts they brought (every art supply known to man!), the girls favorite are the super soft fleece blankets!  Heidi got Spiderman and Hazel got Inside Out (which I am planning to steal ASAP).

Grandpa Baird has the patience of a saint and let the girls make it "snow" with some foam packaging!  Then he cleaned it up with the vacuum, what a guy :)

 Christmas dinner, just a few days late!

ON TO NEW YEAR's (has anybody made it this far?  Are your eyes going crossed?)

For about 5 years now, we have a wonderful tradition with Vince and Michelle (Jake's dad and smom).  They join us for New Year's Eve!  We swap Christmas gifts, celebrate kid New Year's (whatever time we feel like it), then the girls GO TO BED and the guys go out.  It's perfection.

This year, Heidi was SUPER proud of herself.  The day after Christmas, Josh joined the quartet for a Christmas hike.  We hiked past some shale and Heidi collected some (in her "hiking purse"/fanny pack from daddy) to give to Pap Pap!  HA!
Such a great photo!  POOR PAP PAP!  Heidi looks quite pleased with herself.  She's wearing the shirt Aunt Marianne made for her...as I am while writing this (honestly, I haven't taken it off since unwrapping it 2 days ago!). 

Heidi digging into her gifts from her Kosker grandparents.  They always stuff army socks as "stockings", cracks me up!  She and Hazel each got a handmade baby doll made to look like their baby photos.  I haven't taken pics of them yet, but they are very special and Heidi is especially into mothering her "baby Heidi".
 They could celebrate New Years for hours...or as many times as daddy is willing to refill & dump garbage bags of balloons :)

One last shot of each girl with their guinea pig.  Heidi named hers Gingerbread.  Hazel initially named hers Fluttershy (a character from My Little Pony), but just decided that Gumdrop fits her guinea better :)  

We wish you all a blessed New Year!

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