Sunday, December 30, 2012

book advent calendar

Dear Connor and Grace,

Since Grace is in love with books, I thought a book advent calendar would be the perfect tradition to start this year. I've always wanted to collect enough Christmas books to be wrapped, opened and read everyday leading up to Christmas. It's been my favorite idea to encourage her early literacy. Being a teacher, I love seasonal books and have quite the collection. I've been collecting them after the season every year since I started teaching. Some of them are from the $ store, gifts from Grandparents and even photo books of past Christmases. I also found some extra special books in the London bookstores last year, like Grace's personal favorite, Winnie the Pooh and the Christmas Surprise. There's only one noted to not be opened until Christmas Eve- Twas the Night Before Christmas read by Grammie Mo. 

Grace gets to pick out one wrapped book every night after Daddy gets home from work. It took a few days for her to understand that she only gets to open one book/night. Now, she says "one book" as she shows us one finger and crawls under the tree. Connor, we look forward to you being old enough to become more involved in this family tradition in the future. Enjoy!

Love, Mommy

Other ideas:
  1. I'm not crazy about the fact that we use so much wrapping paper. Maybe in the future I'll get more organized and reuse bags and tissue paper.
  2. Once Connor's old enough to join, I've read to wrap the books using different wrapping paper per child. That way when they alternate who opens the nightly book, they choose a book wrapped in their own paper. 
  3. We just have the wrapped books under the tree which go into a basket I have placed next to it, but there are so many ideas out there. I also like the idea of having a wrapped gift at the foot of your child's bed, ready and waiting to be opened every night or morning. Maybe when they're older? If your kids' have their own trees in their bedrooms, you can also keep them under there. 
  4. If you're not thrilled about the idea buying so many books, you can also rent them from your local library. You may have to plan this in advance in case others have a similar idea. 
Original source: 
My daughter's age at time of project: 24 mo.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

O'Connor Cookie Bake

Dear Connor and Grace,

Aunt Colleen has a Christmas cookie bake every year for the O'Connor ladies (plus Connor this year since he comes with me when I'm out and about for long periods at a time). Everyone brings the ingredients to bake cookies and Grammie Mo provides the icing and toppings to decorate her sugar cut-out cookies. One of my favorite parts about this family tradition is that the rest of the O'Connor ladies in Arizona have also continued thuds tradition out there with Grandma Jo ever since it was started back in 2008. Enjoy!

Love, Mommy

Grace decorating eating cookies with Grammie Mo.
Veronica and Nanette busy baking.
Brittany and Aunt Kimberly preparing their cookies.
This little munchkin sat back and enjoyed the show.
You two have seen a lot of cousin Britt lately between the Christmas festivities and her coming over to babysit while Daddy and I sneak away for a couple hours. 
Side note: I've been busy the last couple weeks enjoying the Christmas season with family, especially the little ones. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch up with Christmas posts this week.

Friday, December 28, 2012

1st snow

Dear Grace, 

When we opened your bedroom blinds this morning, you continuously smiled, pointed outside and said, "snoooooow!" 
So, what did we do once Connor was down for his first nap of the day? We bundled up and headed outside to play in the snow.
I consider this being your first time playing in the snow. Sleeping in your pram in Berlin last Christmas doesn't count in my book.
I tried taking a picture of you giving your snowman a high five.

I failed.
We had such a good time playing together in the snow until our noses turned red and the snow stuck to your boots.
The compact snow was perfect for building a snowman, but made it difficult for a toddler to walk. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday, Grace

Dear Grace,
We can't believe how quickly two years have gone by. You've been so much fun getting to know as your personality continues to develop. You are one of the sweetest 2 year olds we know. You bring joy and laughter to all who meet you. You're in love with books, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, dancing and your family, especially your baby brother, "Ca ca."   
We've lived in London and Chicago and have traveled the world together. We couldn't be happier now that we've settled close to our family in Munster. Having a newborn, we wouldn't have been able to throw you the birthday party we did without them. A special thanks goes out to Aunt Susan who baked your amazing cake herself. Enjoy! Love, Mommy and Daddy
Happy Birthday/Christmas to Miss Grace. It's pretty convenient having your birthday just after Cyber Monday.  
I love how your family sat down and immediately started placing orders for the kitchen.
I make a video recapping the past year. You couldn't take your eyes off of it. You danced to the music and sucked your thumb completely mesmerized. It was definitely worth all the time and effort. 
I couldn't help looking back at where we were this time last year-

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elf's Arrival

Dear Connor and Grace,

This has been quite the exciting week between Grace's birthday and Christmas only being a couple weeks away. This week also brought the arrival of the Elf on the Shelf. For those of you who aren't familiar with the storyline, Elf arrives at your house during the Christmas season and reports your behavior back to Santa. Grace doesn't remember to look for him in the morning, but she shows her excitement by yelling "Elllllf" once she spots him. For now he is called Elf, until next Christmas when she'll be old enough to name him. Enjoy! 


One of the Elf on the Shelf "rules" is that you're not supposed to touch him. We'll work on that one next year...
Of course Grace had to run and share the excitement with her baby brother. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear Connor and Grace,

Our morning routine has turned into Grace insisting on Connor joining her in her crib. This particular morning, Grace wasn't content until she was wearing her Mickey shirt to match her baby brother's new outfit from Uncle Matt (Nierengarten). Enjoy! 

Love, Mommy 

You may have seen a sneak peak of this picture on Pinterest or FB.
I love that Connor is looking directly at me in this picture.
Squeeze hug. xoxo

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santa Hustle 2012

Dear Connor and Grace,
Last Saturday, GMa and Papa Lon watched you two while Daddy and I spent the entire day in the city. We had a holiday fun filled day of running a 5K Santa Hustle, breakfast with mimosas and bloody mary's and a quick visit to the German Christmas market. Aunt Libbie, Uncle Matt, Aunt Susan and Uncle Matthew started this annual sibling tradition last year while we were in London. Enjoy!
Love, Mommy 

Yes, all participants were given a Santa hat, beard and shirt.
Cheers before the race!
It was a pretty cool ride from Libbie and Matt's apartment to the start line. Santa was at every corner. 
After breakfast we met Vinny at the German Christmas market. 
It was a record breaking warm Saturday in December. Needless to say, we weren't the only ones who had this festive idea.
We also walked past the Macy's windows on our way back to the train station since it was only a block away. 
Thanks Mom and Dad for making this event possible. It's so easy leaving the two little ones for such a long period of time, knowing they're left in good hands. xoxo, Kate 

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