Saturday, December 20, 2014

Zoo Lights!

One of my very favorite parts of the Christmas Season is Zoo Lights! I just love how bright and colorful everything is...it feels magical =).
It's a pretty popular attraction in our city, and it tends to be super crowded. Also, our zoo is up on a hill, so it tends to be windy. And cold.
So this year we were prepared on all fronts!
We picked a weekday where neither David or I had to work, and we left the house before 4pm to head to the zoo.
Dave made us some yummy hot chocolate for the drive...
(join me in pretending not to notice how trashed my van is, won't you?)

We got there while it was still light out, which afforded us a glimpse at some outdoor animals...



ZOO LIGHTS!!!






We saw a few more animals as we made our way to the train. I think I was more excited than the kids were! I LOVE the train ride around the zoo!












After the train ride, we wandered all around the zoo, taking in the pretty sights...


David was in charge of the bundling up this year, and he did a fantastic job. We didn't hear a single "I'm cold!!" all evening long, which is no small feat =). In fact, at one point Abbey asked if she could take her hat off because she was a little sweaty! Ha!  You may remember a few years back, everyone was freezing and cranky. Even the kids.









The kids were thrilled to see the baby elephant Lily was up!




Love my silly boys...









Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deck the halls....

December is my very favorite month of the year, Christmas Eve my favorite day.
(I love the anticipation and excitement in the build up more than the actual day =) )

Having four-year-olds has been really fun this Season. So fun that I'm having to remind myself not to over plan for us =). Trying to find the balance between having fun making memories, and driving everyone crazy with overstimulation from way too much to do.
I'll let you know in January how I did =)

Earlier this month, the twins and I kicked off the Season by decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies.  I bought a complete set (pre-baked cookies, frosting, icing, candy for decorating, everything) for $8.99 at Costco. Hello love.
 








We've also been up to our usual shenanigans, but everyone seems to enjoy them more with Christmas decorations up around us.





Abbey was a HUGE helper this year with our Christmas cards! She sealed and stamped many, many envelopes for me. Some were even graced with an adorably written "A" and "M" on the back of the envelope, as apparently the cards were only from Abbey and Momma =).


We've been reading Christmas books...



And doing more baking...
 



(this was the second year we made these. Super easy, fun for preschoolers, and tasty too!)
 
 
And more shenanigans...


 
David has made us his special hot chocolate a few times already...so tasty. It's Luke's absolute favorite, and he can hardly sit still waiting for it to be cool enough to drink.
Abbey quickly abandoned a project the other day to join the hot chocolate drinking, declaring "I don't want to miss a minute of Christmas!"
Me either baby girl=).

At one point, I lost my mind and told the kids they could cut and glue with leftover wrapping paper...
Wrapping paper EVERYWHERE. But, they had fun and worked together nicely for over an hour. Worth it.
 
 
 
We got creative the other day and made foot and hand print reindeer - they turned out so cute!

 
 
Luke has been enjoying getting creative with the Nativity set...
 
 
We've all been enjoying getting ready for Christmas this year, and I'm excited for a fun-filled week to come.
And I'm so grateful for these two Christmas Cuties...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

 My Dad's birthday was the Monday before Thanksgiving this year, and he was going to be in my city picking up Aunt Mem on his actual birthday. Grannie Annie had the fun idea to surprise him with a birthday party! She snuck a delicious cake into the car without GrandDad even noticing =).
 
Abbey and Luke were thrilled at the idea of surprising GrandDad. They got right to work making a poster...
 
 
And then the Hoffman Four tried to stay busy while we waited...
 

 

 

I'm so proud of my rowdy little bunch =).

Auntie Natalie came over and quickly found a spot to wait for GrandDad's entrance...


 
 
SURPRISE!!!!
 
(Luke dashed over to give GrandDad a hug - nearly knocking him over =))
 
 

Abs assisting with card and present opening... 

 
 
 
 
 

 
It was so fun to get to celebrate GrandDad, especially since three of his five daughters were able to be in attendance!
 
 
Thanksgiving morning, we loaded up and drove South to visit Papa and Gaga. We weren't able to have any cousins (except the newest baby) to play with, but Abbey was quite content with her furry playmate...
(A dog small enough to be carried around?! Why that's Abigail Mae's dream come true. She loves the crap outta poor Jeffe anytime he's around!)
 

 
Dave's parents have some of his old toys still...



Uncle David's newest niece =)


 
 
That night, we made our way over to GrandDad and Grannie Annie's to stay over. That also meant we got to be tortured by loved up on by Aunt Mem...
 
 
 
The next morning, we were all treated to a make-your-own-hot-chocolate station. TOO FUN.


Grannie Annie also planned a scavenger hunt for the twins to do before we left that morning! The kids had to solve clues that lead them around the house, and ended with chocolate prizes!



We then went to Grammie and Bopbop's house for a second delicious Thanksgiving meal.
Abbey was so happy to find this new rocking horse in their living room!

 
 
Auntie Natalie kickin' it at the Kid Table...


 
I love the way my husband and sisters love each other.

 
And now, onto Christmas...my very favorite time of year!





Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thankful Tree

Years ago when I was a preschool teacher, the curriculum I used in November always suggested making a Thankful Tree. It was always a favorite bulletin board decoration, and I loved the idea of instilling gratefulness in the students.
 Last year we began what will (hopefully) be at tradition here in our home, making our own Thankful Tree.
Even at 3.5, Abbey and Luke were pretty into it last year, and this year was even better =).
 
 
 
Luke and Abbey made those adorable scarecrows at preschool, and the tree and leaves are just made from construction paper. I just sat and cut it all out one night while watching TV...it may not be perfect (I have one critic here who pointed out no one single tree produces so many different shaped leaves...=) ) but it is colorful and works just fine =).
 
Each night at dinner, we'd go around the table and say something we were thankful for. I was impressed this year with the kids' desire to do this each night! Abbey in particular made sure this was done every night, and would be sure and remind David on the nights I was at work =). 
 
Their answers were great. Adorable, hysterical, sweet, profound...you name it.
 


 
 















 
 
 
 
(Naturally)
 
We had a cold snap in the middle of November, and at one point during that week all 4 of us had said we were thankful for our cozy home. I love how focusing on gratitude can make you so happy you're smooshed in 990 sq feet together =). And more than that, I loved how this daily activity produced organic gratefulness in all of our hearts. So many times throughout the day I'd hear the kids say "wow, we're sure lucky to have all these toys!" or "it's nice to have a warm blanket on me!"
And I found myself being inherently more grateful throughout the day as well.
 

 
Amen.