Tuesday, January 31, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

We coin this phrase for just about anything. Right after Neil and I got married, we made a Christmas CD (which is still floating around certain friends' cars I think!) titled "The Pitman's 12 Days of Christmas". Or possibly "The 12 Songs of Christmas". Sadly, we actually lost our own copy years ago. This year, for my parents' gift, we gave made and assembled (and even sung the tune as we delivered) "The Cabin Gifts of Christmas". And, as already mentioned, our "Christmas holiday" tends to last well into January! So although it has little to do with swans-a-swimming or pipers-piping, the sentiment of Christmas being more than one day gets a lot of air time in our house. And never did the "12 Days of Christmas" ring more true than this year, when it truly felt that (even with twelve!) we would run out of days before we ran out of things to do. Here's just a little smattering of the fun we had, and although I could do a post for each of these, unless I want it to be "The 12 Days of Christmas Blogging", I'll keep it short.

#1. We went to Neil's Medline Holiday Party. Even though it was mostly work for him, it was still fun to get dolled up and have fun with friends. When I came downstairs all dressed, bejeweled, and made-up, Iain (who obviously wasn't used to all this finery!) said open-mouthed and in awe..."Oh Mommy! You look very handsome!!" This was about the only photo we took, although we did capture some fine moments in the photo booth.

#2. We (of course!) decorated the Christmas tree. This is always a big event in our house, complete with snackies, a favorite movie, and (when we can arrange it!) snow! Although we couldn't justify sending to death a real tree, since we were leaving town the week before Christmas, our generous brother and sister let us borrow their cutie little artificial one. And it was perfect. Although it was Liam's first time decorating a tree (more photos of all "Baby's Firsts" to come!) it was Iain's first year actually knowing what to do. And for him, "what to do" was to put as many ornaments as possible front and center!

#3. We headed to Galena for the Tri-State Christian School Christmas concert. This is another "annual" for us. No Christmas season is complete without hearing little voices competing with their sleigh bells for volume, and seeing all the kiddos dressed in their Christmas best. We also met a dear friend for dinner at a fantastic new Galena restaurant (Embe. Go! Their website stinks, but the food is great and it's the cutest ever!) Iain tried his first (believe it or not!) peanut butter and jelly sandwich! It was a great night, and both boys enjoyed it. Iain was totally enthralled. He loved hearing the barbershop quartet sing Jingle Bells, but is favorite part was the living nativity scene, though he was alarmed when Mary left the stage and came back in regular dress. Seriously though...the TSCS Christmas concert is always fantastic. You should go next year!

#4. We saw Santa. This has become somewhat of an annual too, unfortunately. Now, I have nothing against Santa, but I do have something against fraudulent mall Santas who don't look the part, or say anything you've rehearsed with your two year old. Farfetched examples of what we were expecting include things such as: "Hello! What's your name? Have you been a good boy this year? What do you want for Christmas?" What we got instead was a repetition of this phrase: "Oh, you're doing fine. Look at the camera." Kinda kills the magic. However, we visit the bookstore and the play place enough that Iain knows that the mall is where Santa lives. So we go. Luckily, this year we also go to visit Santa at Medline, who was much more jolly, and much less creepy.

#5. We went to Iain's very first Sunday School Christmas program! Sure, he only sang "Christmas Bells" (complete with bells!) and "Away in a Manger" (with the actions!), so it wasn't his break into Broadway or anything. But it was a big deal, because it's the first of many things like this that we will do in our life. We practiced for weeks beforehand, and he knew all the words and all the actions perfectly. We were a little nervous that he'd freak out and refuse to get onstage, but he tromped right up, brave as a trouper! And (aside from falling off the stage once and making a break to check out the guitars between songs) he did a fantastic job!

#6. We spent an inordinate amount of time in Santa's Workshop (also known as our basement!) gluing, brewing, stitching, stenciling, wrapping and tagging. For the last several years, we've been working hard to incorporate more homemade gifts into our repertoire, and although we're not yet at the point where everything is made by us, between Homemade Christmas and amazon.com, we barely have to set foot in a store! This year, some of our favorite creations included etched pint glasses, aprons, personalized wine charms, be-flowered hairbands and homemade beer, salsa and truffles. I also sewed snowmen for all the cousins, with matching scarves for each child. Here Iain shows his (prototype and thus the worst of the bunch) snowman and scarf proudly. As I lamented over the poor stitchery, uneven lines, misplaced eyes and lumpy body, Iain spied him and said "Mommy!!! What IS that snowman!?" I asked if he'd like to have it, and he said "YES! I ABSOLUTELY WOULD!!!" I am thankful that kids aren't harsh critics, and I told Iain so. Of course, he asked what it meant, and Daddy said "Mommy's just really happy you like her snowman." He's slept with him every night since.

#7. Although we spent so much time working on Christmas crafts, we did manage to have a lot of fun with it this year! We spaced it out well enough that it didn't feel overwhelming, and we had a great time down in our little workshop, creating together. Whenever we'd hit a slump, we'd grab out the faithful "White Christmas" movie and bring it down to get us over the wall. We must have watched it 43 times. And on about the fifteenth go around, we decided that it only made sense for us to try "Hot buttered rum...light on the butter"! Let me just say that line will never be the same for me. It was DIS.GUS.TING. If anyone has made this recipe with success...please do share. We're willing to try it again. But really, hot rum, water and butter? How could it be good?

#8. One of the projects that Iain enjoyed helping with was Christmas cookies. We had a lot of parties requiring treats, and we always take a bag of goodies to our neighbors. Thus, I found myself doing a lot of baking. This little helper was very concentrated on his craft, and although his final products were masterpieces of sugar and glitter, we decided to save those for home consumption. He's a bit heavy handed with the sprinkles. We had a lot of fun baking together this year. He's getting to be quite a little chef.

#9. And, speaking of neighbors, we celebrated Eubachman (That's Eudaley/Loebach/Pitman!) Christmas with our favorite neighbors! We always love hanging out with Candace and Michael, and the boys love them too. We were all excited about our "Christmas". We had dinner (Indian!) and exchanged gifts (homemade!). We did a seasonal beer tasting ("Does this taste like bile?"). We ate (our version of) Decadent Fudge Crackle Candycane ice-cream (Yum!). We put noses and antlers on the boys! What's not to love?

#10. GAC White Elephant. Arguably the best night of the year. Or perhaps we should say UN-arguably! We ate. We laughed. We wore (homemade, matching) ugly sweaters. We got rid of our crap and took home someone else's. We watched KT knock over the Christmas tree! We laughed some more. We had a ton of fun. Iain even got to help Anna with the announcing, which made his night. But just so you know..if you give a kid a microphone...he'll want to shout in it.

#11. We calebrated Pitman Christmas! What can I say? Well, as it turns out...a lot! I will have to save this one for another post, because there's just too much fun that was had to be captured by one photo. Brunch, gifts, family, dinner. It was a great day. We even got a White (Pitman) Christmas!

#12. We hit the road! With coffee in hand, White Christmas on the big-screen, pillows and blankets all-around, we were off to Canada! Is there any other way to travel? And is there anything more fun than the anticipation felt at the start of a trip? Somewhere around Chicago or so, our joy usually wanes, but every time, we're excited to be going. We were in Canada for more than two glorious weeks, and we enjoyed every minute. (Much) more on that later.
So there you have it. Our "twelve days of Christmas". What were you doing in December?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tortoise and the Hair...

Clearly, second children do not always follow in their elder siblings' footsteps. We know this to be true in just about every manner with our eldest and youngest, and none more so than in regard to their manes. Iain was a year if he was a day before he had any hair worth combing. He was almost two by the time he got his hair cut for the first time and it was over six months before he needed another one. However. Liam was born with more hair than Iain had when he turned one, and it's been growing like a weed ever since. Clearly it was time for a haircut.


So off to Mikaela we trekked, soother in hand for comfort as needed.
In just a few snips of the scissors...
...our hairy beast...
(...or shall I say our wee lass...)
was transformed
into this handsome fella!
What a BIG BOY!

And of course, we can't forget his ragamuffin brother.
He underwent his own transformation...
...though he can't seem to make a normal face in photos to save his life!
Still handsome though!
If you've seen our kids lately, you're probably thinking 'They got haircuts recently?' Because they sure don't look like it. This is no fault of Mikaela! Since I'm so belated with this post (say...approximately two months late?) it's just about time for another one.

Cleaning Out the Closets

'Tis a new year. Beginnings. Resolutions and goals. New schedules, new hobbies and cleaning out the closets, both literally and figuratively. A fresh page on the calendar. Out with the old! In with new! I'm not much of a resolution-maker, but there is something about January that makes me want to start fresh. However, this year I'm finding it hard to get into a January frame of mind. Perhaps it's because the first (noteworthy) snow of the season didn't fall until well after the holiday came and went, so truly, it's only now beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Maybe it's because the weeks leading up to Christmas are "the most wonderful time of the year". It could be because we had so. much. fun. this Christmas, with celebrations all over the place, both home and away, and we're not ready for the fun to end! Or...more likely it's just that I have approximately 972 Christmas photos staring me in the face, needing to need to be dealt with. And about 863 others from the weeks preceding. I took a bit of a blog-break this month, because I just didn't know where to start. I mean...no one wants to read about festivities now! It's January. Closet cleaning time! But, on the other hand, if I leave it out, I'll forever be confused about what we did for Christmas 2011, because my memory really is becoming that faulty! And predictably, just because you stop documenting it, life doesn't stop happening. So now I have about 467 photos from January's adventures needing to be taken care of too.

So before I am buried any deeper under this digital pile of memories, I think I'll be doing a little retroactive blogging this week: Our 12-days of Christmas, Dubuque style. Liam's first haircut, Liam's first Christmas and Liam's first birthday! Canadian Christmas 2011. A New Year's masquerade ball. Pitman Pie Weekend 2012. And of course, lots of everyday life in between. If you are a blog reader who likes up-to-the minute reporting, these posts might not be for you! But, if you're someone we are lucky enough to enjoy life with...stay tuned! There's a good chance you'll see yourself in the archives, because you've been part of our fun over the last few months!

One last thing. Since I'm here anyway, I will get one 'post topic' off my to-do list! January is not only good for closet cleaning! It's also good for snowman making. And that is just what we did today! Meet the Pitman family. Our at least our snow-doppelgangers! Snoppelgangers?

L-R: Kitty, Iain, Daddy, Mommy and Liam!

Iain James Pitman: Snowman builder extraordinaire!
Stick fetcher, stone finder, ball roller and general man of all work.

Liam Charles Pitman: Spectator of the Year!
Sitter, smiler, soother-sucker and snow-player.

The boys and their snoppelgangers.

Hello Snow-family!
Happy January!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Birthday Boy

It's the first day of a new year, and Mr. Liam Charles Pitman is one year old! The photos from his first year of life have been reminisced over. (Were you ever that tiny?) The party's been had. (Hope you had fun little snowman; we sure did!) The cake has been (thoroughly!) enjoyed. The family and friends have gone home. (Thanks for coming guys! Love you!) The kids (and the parents!) are tuckered out, in their jammies, and ready for bed. Here are just a few photos of the birthday boy's winter celebration (nevermind that it's a balmy 50 degrees outside!) for the friends and family that we wish weren't too far away to be here with us!

It sure was a Happy Birthday for our little boy, but then again...almost every day is a happy one for Liam! On this first day of January, 2012, there's only one thing left to say to you, Little Liam: "Sweet baby boy, I love you. Sweet baby boy, I've told you this a thousand times. I'm so glad you are mine"