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    Archive for December 2008

    The Clauses Next Door

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    I know that I usually take the time to blog on Tuesdays, but with this week being the week of Christmas, I figured I better take the time to do our weekly entry when I've got time!!

    Our friends/next door neighbors invited us along with a few other friends over to their house for a Christmas party on Friday evening. A surprise guest was rumored to be coming as well and we were all excited! Benjamin and I baked eggless gingerbread cookies to decorate at the party and even decorated some of them beforehand to eat ourselves. Katie and Jason had quite a spread of goodies to eat and all of the kids enjoyed running around and decorating cookies. After dinner, a knock at the door signaled the important visitors - Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus!! The kind people willing to dress up and let our kids sit on their laps were the parents of Katie and Jason's live-in Nanny, Melissa (she also was one of Benjamin's teachers at daycare before she left to watch Ethan full-time). Some of the kids were more open to socializing with the Clauses than others, but luckily Benjamin was one of the more comfortable of the bunch. He was able to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas and Santa even had a couple of small fun gifts for him. It was a wonderful evening!!

    On Saturday we received a sizeable amount of snow in a blizzard that lasted pretty much all day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I think we have about 2 feet of snow on the ground around our house right now. So much snow has fallen that we have run out of room on either side of our driveway for the shoveled snow. Unfortunately, as Sunday approached, so did very very very cold temperatures and I think our high for today was -11 degrees with a -40 windchill. SICK! So we couldn't even enjoy all of that snow.

    Even with the horrible weather, we still were able to get out and do some Christmas shopping, visit the library and have dinner out on Saturday. However, on Sunday with the cold temps we decided to just stay home and catch up on some projects. Mike reorganized some cabinets, Benjamin caught up on his artwork and I made 1/2 of a practice cake for Andy and Jennifer's wedding. It was a very productive day.

    I know that I keep saying this, but I cannot believe how close the holidays are now. THREE days until Christmas! Ai yi yi!! It should be a fun one though, we are all excited. We still have some wrapping to do and I have to make some Andrzejewski meat pierogis to bring up to Mom and Dad's! Mmmmmm.


    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    We had a very low-key weekend, which actually began at lunchtime on Friday because Mike is trying to use up his vacation days before the end of the year. He had a 1/2 day off on Friday and the whole day off on Monday. We had so much fun just staying indoors and snuggling up while the temperatures outside reached lows of -6 degrees with a -30 degree windchill. We were able to sneak out to get some Christmas shopping done and Mike went to a holiday gathering with some running friends Saturday night.

    Proud boy who just learned how to write his name

    Benjamin has been very into learning his letters lately. He constantly asks us questions like "What letter does towel start with?" He is able to read all of the alphabet letters now, so he's been moving onto recognizing short words and writing the letters. We use a white board to show him a letter and then he copies it. After practicing individual letters with us for a while, he was able to write his whole name on his own. The letters are a bit askew, but he gets the idea.

    Mike introduced Benjamin to some of his GI Joe toys from his childhood as well this weekend. They spent nearly all day on Monday playing with them together, it was great. Benjamin calls it "playing trucks" and they both love to make all of those sound effects that only boys can make! When Mike brought the box of toys up from the downstairs storage closet, Benjamin was beyond excited. I think it was really special time for Mike.

    Benjamin introduced to GI Joe toys

    Always good for a giggle

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Benjamin wanted to share this with the internet - it is his favorite video and we all love to sing along.

    Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Breakfast with Santa

    Benjamin has taken to quickly relearning all of the Christmas carols he knew last year. It is amazing how short-term a toddler's memory can be. He totally does not remember last year's Christmas AT ALL. So though it has been slightly repetative for us to reteach him all of these things, it also provides an opportunity to relive the most special moments all over again. We decorated the Christmas tree last week and every single ornament was brand new to him. Each time we pulled off the tissue paper that protects them in their storage boxes, Benjamin would let out a hearty "COOL!" Every glimpse of Christmas lights out of his car window is just as exciting. He's always on the lookout for a Frosty or blow up Santa or some facinating decoration. Last year we took him to a Macy's store in Illinois for their Breakfast with Santa event along with my parents. He was pretty scared of Santa back then. Well, really he was scared of anyone in a costume. Mom and Dad are living up here now, so we were hoping that the Macy's stores in the Twin Cities did the same event. Luckily, sometime before Thanksgiving Mom found an ad in the paper and immediately secured tickets to the breakfast at the Ridgedale Mall Macy's in Minnetonka. Once again we were highly impressed with the event! It was held in the restaurant attached to the store, which is just gorgeous. The Santa there was very cute and they even had elves on hand for face-painting and balloon hats/animals. The breakfast was okay - french toast, bacon and eggs. Benjamin had a blast, well ALL of us had a blast. He was definitely less afraid of Santa this year and more just in awe of him. All of the kids were given Christmas Wish List to fill out with what you wanted to ask Santa for and Benjamin/Grandma Chris dutifully filled it out and gave it to Santa. I wonder if he'll make the connection between those items and the ones he finds under the tree.

    Mike and I once again ran the Reindeer Run race (how many synonyms of RUN can I get into one sentence!) around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis again. Katie tagged along this year as well.

    Me and Katie at the Reindeer Run

    It was cold and snowing first thing in the morning, but eventually the snow stopped and the sun came out, it was beautiful. There are quite literally thousands of people who run this race - many of them in elaborate costumes. It is lots of fun! After the race Katie and Dan had us over for some tasty chili at their new-ish home. We spent the rest of the weekend at Mom and Dad's watching football, dodging the snow and relaxing.

    Benjamin started some preschool classes last Friday through Community Education. His daycare is also a preschool, so he won't attend a separate school until he goes to Kindergarden, but these classes give him an opportunity to learn and make friends outside of the daycare center. This week they learned all about Hanukkah and they will continue to learn about holiday celebrations around the world. So far we are big fans!

    I honestly don't know how it can be that Christmas is only a little more than 2 weeks away. I am not ready! It certainly looks like Christmastime outside lately though - we just received another 7 inches of snow last night on top of the couple we already had. Time to pull out the sled!!!

    New Look

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Well, as you can tell, the Familie Schmitt blog has a new look - which is possibly temporary for now until I can figure out a way to do what I really want to do with it. I was tired of the old green look, hence the change. Anyhoo, onto the more interesting stuff...(warning: this is gonna be a long one)

    We celebrated Thanksgiving and did a variety of other things with the Schmitt family last week. It was quite a "marathon weekend" sans a marathon! We drove up to Cottage Grove on Wednesday night and Mike and I wandered down to Hastings for the evening to pick up packets/register for the Gobble Gait 8k race. We knew it was going to be a really fun race with the race headquarters at a bar and registration volunteers all rockin' beers at packet pickup! The race was at 8:30am Thanksgiving morning.

    Dan, Katie, Mike and I braved the cold start area with approximately 2,000 other runners. The course is a nice loop around Hastings with the beginning running along the Mississippi River, which was quite scenic. There were a couple of real steep hills along the course and a nice downhill, but overall it was very fun and a nice way to sneak in some exercise before gobbling down our turkey. Cindy made a tasty Thanksgiving meal, which we all enjoyed. Andy and Jennifer along with her Mom and Stepdad joined us later in the evening for pie after we played a couple heated rounds of Left Right Center with Great Aunt Alice, Bert and Cindy.

    On Friday I busied myself with baking cakes for Jennifer bridal shower, but we were all very excited all day for a big surprise. Jen had reserved tickets for the three of us, along with Joe, Jen and AJ to ride on the Polar Express! We didn't tell either boy about what we were doing, but dressed them in their pajamas and drove out to Lakeville to the train depot.

    Funny enough, both boys passed out in our respective cars on the way. When they woke up we let them in on the surprise and although they were still a little groggy from their naps, they were extremely excited. The event itself was so well done. The depot was all decked out in holiday decorations, a tv showing the movie, toys for the kids to play with and a mini-train for the kids to ride on throughout the parking lot. When their mini-train ride was finishing up, the big train pulled up and I honestly have never seen the boys so excited! It was magical. We walked to the Polar Express and a conductor asked each child their name and checked to make sure they were on his "list." Then we boarded the train and took our seats on a commuter car (which suspiciously looked like a Burlington Northern car).

    High schoolers dressed up like elves led some games and songs and later a woman read the Polar Express book to us. The elves also handed out cookies and hot chocolate ("HOT! HOT! HOT! Oooh we got it! Hot, hot, hot - Hot chocolate!") to everyone. After all of this excitement, Santa and Mrs Claus made their way into our car and spent time talking with each child individually. If they proved to Santa that they believed they were given a sleigh bell (just kidding, all the kids got bells). Benjamin was just thrilled with the whole thing, what an awesome experience for all of us.

    Saturday was Jennifer's bridal shower. Andy is the last Schmitt boy to get married and so she will be the last sister-in-law addition to the family and all of us females are thrilled to finally even it up (with the exception of all of those darn grandSONS)! Katie, Jen and I threw the shower, which had a winter wonderland theme, at Jen's house. I finished the cake Saturday morning and successfully drove it to Jen's house without any damage, though for once I had to not drive like a Chicagoan to get it there in one piece! Everyone had a great time and Jennifer and Andy received some awesome and unique gifts. When the shower was over the entire family drove out to Stillwater to celebrate Alice's 90th birthday.

    After dinner Mike, Dan, Katie, Jen and I were able to spend some adult time away from kids and we had a blast! We finished up our weekend by watching the Packers game on Sunday at Cindy and Bert's.

    Our Christmas tree and holiday decorations are all finally out and we feel finally like the Christmas season is upon us. Benjamin is full of questions about every little thing to do with the holiday and we are trying to do our best at answering them. But how does one explain to a 3 year old exactly what myrrh is - I'm not even sure I completely know! As the good Catholic family we are, my family celebrates St. Nicholas Day, which is a tradition Mike and I have taken on as well. Benjamin will have a full stocking, but I'm sure even more questions - "did Santa fill our stockings" - "no, St. Nick did" - "what is the difference between Santa and St. Nick?"

    OH BOY!