Thursday, February 9, 2012

So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen...Good Night.

If the kind of celebration you have to herald its exit is any indication of the quality of the year, 2011 must have been a good one. Because we had a great time on New Year's Eve 2011! Or perhaps we were just trying to make up for the last few. Our last "normal" New Year's Eve was in we were probably due! (Normal indicates any combination of: family, friends, champagne, music, food, fun.) Also note that it would NOT include such events as the following:
1. Counting down to midnight in the car on a highway somewhere in rural Michigan, on a belated trip to Canada, after a stressful trip to the neonatal doctors in Iowa City (New Year's Eve 2008).
2. Spending the evening in bed with the flu and an equally sick spouse, while alternating care of a barfing baby (New Year's Eve 2009).
3. Going into labor! (New Year's Eve 2010)

This year we did "normal", and I have to say we did it well! We started the evening with a family dinner, made by the kids, while Mom and Dad took babysitting duty. We started with bruschetta and a gourmet salad (think: pecans, cranberries, blue cheese, roasted red peppers!). The main course included steak and lobster, stuffed potatoes, and roasted veggies. We finished with a pavlova. It was all divine! We all got into our fancy clothes (although us cooks donned aprons!). And of course we broke out the party hats and the nice wine, although we did forget the champagne.

We attempted a family photo...but this was the best we could muster up.

From there, we left the babes and old folks (all those who can't make it until midnight!) and headed out with friends to a black and white themed masquerade ball! It was just as fun as it sounds! Here we all are, in our fabulous masks, all one of a kind creations by Ms. Breha Patterson, with help from her Pitman apprentices!

We did a lot of dancing.

We took a group shot in front of the "green screen" that promised an exotic background or exciting New Year's wish...but alas, since we forgot to pick up our photo at midnight...the acutal green-screen is all we have.

We took monumental "Last Photo Together in 2011"!

We counted down to midnight!

We took a "First Photo of 2012!"
(...which looks a lot like the last photo of 2011...!)

Before the night was through, we'd also (unwittingly) crashed a Legion party (no photos of that though), shared some good laughs, reminisced about New Years Eves past, and looked ahead to the future. And we all got to bed by 3am! Welcome 2012. You've been good to us so far! Can't wait to see what else you have in store!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Boxing's not just for Boxing!

What exactly is Boxing Day? It seems that no one really knows the origins of this holiday. But truly, whoever made the day after Christmas into an official day off was some kind of genius. Or more to the point, any country without a Boxing Day on their calendar (Ahem.) should think about adopting it! "It's a holiday with presents that have already been opened and a dinner that has been eaten. It's a holiday best spent lounging around in brightly colored sweaters, wondering, lazily and lethargically, what to do next." Sounds fairly perfect to me!

It's also a great day for: trying out new snowsuits!


And taking (sub-par) family photos.

Viva la Boxing Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Christmas in Canada

Is there any moment in the entire year more special than Christmas Eve? The carols and the candlelight; the excitement and anticipation; the joy and the peace. Nothing will ever match the magic of that night for me. We kept ours simple: A Christmas Eve service with friends and family, a few "night before Christmas" gifts for the boys, some hors d'ourves and an ill fated attempt at A Christmas Carol.
We slept in Christmas morning (I guess we're lucky to have boys who are not yet hip to the notion of waking up early on Christmas morning!) and then started in on the avalanche of gifts that had landed themselves under the tree. We're lucky (on both sides of the family) that everyone has a similar mindset about Christmas. No one spends a ton. No one buys a ton. Everyone chooses thoughtful (often homemade) gifts that are perfect for the recipient. But even when the majority of things are homemade and from the heart, even when the budget is kept low and everyone is careful not to go "overboard", there are still a LOT of presents to go around!

We brought the boys up and let hem start with their gift from Santa. Iain got right down to business playing with his new trains, and Liam loved his IKEA crane too.

Next we all opened our stockings, figuring that this would be the best plan for keeping the boys occupied. Highlights for Liam included some delicious snacks, a new pacifier to match his favorite green standby, letters spelling his name, a delicious sippy cup, and a toothbrush of his own.

For Iain, although he was excited about the Ovaltine, the underwear, the toothbrush, the new cups, and especially the slippers he'd been talking about since October and requesting from every Santa we visited, nothing could really compare with his new James train.

After the stockings, which also included all the "husbands to wives" and "wives to husbands", there was still a plethora of gifts to give.
Gifts from Mom and Dad to "the kids":

Gifts from "the kids" to the parents.

Gifts to and from Brett and Breha.

Gifts from Grammie and Grampy and Unky Brett and Auntie Beyoo to the boys. And gifts for them both from the boys!

...and a gifts for the Patterson cousins we hope to meet soon!

A gift for Daddy from the boys...

...and for Mommy too!

Gifts from brother to brother.

And gifts from Neil and I to the boys as well. (Seriously, check out the Baby's face! All gifted out!)

There were also gifts to Pattersons from Pitmans, gifts to Pattersons from DeLoaches, and gifts from great-aunts and uncles for the boys. We took a break in the middle somewhere for a delicious Christmas brunch of egg casserole and coffee cake, and then got right back into the presents. It really did feel slightly ridiculous, especially since we all thought we were showing restraint in the gifts we chose! We ended the gjfting extravaganza with the piece de resistance, for Iain at least. His own pair of skates, from Grammie and Grampy! You've never seen such a happy boy!

We ended with hugs and thanks all around, and everyone agreed it had been a great morning.

We had only just finished tiding up the paper and boxes when visitors arrived at the door bearing gifts (of course!) and coming to claim the remainder of packages under our tree. Sadly, my camera battery had died, so I have NO photos of the amazing gifts Deborah and her Mom and sister brought for us and the boys. They will be making an appearance soon (in a post titled "My sisters and friends are so talented it makes me dizzy! But I'm glad to be the recipient of their talent!" or something thereabouts.) Liam pooped out soon after, but I was glad he at least got to see the fabulous "Cirque de Liam" made for him!

Then, it was onto Christmas dinner. Brett and Neil fried the turkey, while the rest of us took care of the inside work. Contrary to how it may appear in the photos, fried turkey is not as redneck as it sounds (looks?) and is actually very delicious: Crispy, tender, moist and not greasy at all! case they weren't looking hick enough...they thought that the camouflaged hunter orange beer cans might do the job if the boots and other getup didn't.

Dad carved the turkey, in his new apron!

We feasted.

And just like *that*. Christmas was over for another year.