Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas, Part Three, Back Home

SO, back to our Three Part Christmas.

 To review - we had 12 days of Christmas broken into three 4-day parts. Part One - pre-Christmas and our "Four Schneiders" Christmas at home. Part Two - Christmas in Xenia and adventures with the whole Christmas crew. And now, I bring you Part Three - four whole days of blissful family time back home.

Those four days are the reason we have made it through this insanely-busy month that has been January so far.

Ahhhh.... family "slow time"...

Slowing down and just... spending... time.... together.
Extending simple moments that are typically rushed and lost in the normal day to day.
Wallowing in gratitude.
Rejuvenating everyone.

What an enormous gift to each of us it was to get several days of this:

Rotating between jammies and dress-up clothes:

Cheering on the littlest Schneider who discovered her inner Indy car over the holiday:

 Creating masterpieces:

Building fantasy lands:

Making music:

Working together:

For all these moments pictured in photos, there are several more that were not.  Simple, sweet moments captured and stored elsewhere but not on the camera or blog.

Part Two & A Half, Christmas Adventures

So, back to the holidays....

Part One was Christmas at our house. Part Two was Christmas in Xenia, and we are calling the adventures while we were staying in Xenia "Christmas Part Two-and-a-Half".  Enjoy!

The holidays are great for lounging, eating and soaking up family time but it is also really hard to "do nothing" for too long. I get this weird brand of anxiety if I don't have something going on for too long. Anyway, that's the long way of saying that we had to plan some adventures out of the house!

First up - we ventured out to BounceU to bounce some sillies out. And while there is a really good chance that this insane hacking coughing funk originated there, it was still really fun.

Here are my two darlings making there way through the "American Gladiators" style obstacle course. Josie was SO proud of herself.

And, a touching little moment here, courtesy of Josie pleading to "please please let Bea do it with me" and the quarter I had in my wallet. Who knew 25 cents could make such a memory?  I give you, the girls' first ride together...

After BounceU, we headed over to Graeters in Oakwood because their Peppermint Stick ice cream is my favorite and I hadn't had any yet.  SCORE - Graeters next to Starbucks!! It was a great little getaway. We totally had Graeters to ourselves.  It snowed for about 10 minutes and we sat at stools in the window.  There's was definitely a little Christmas magic there that afternoon.  The four of us had a quiet little adventure, perfect after the insanity of BounceU and the flurry of Christmas itself.

On our last day in town we decided to venture out to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton. Okay, I am going to say it - I think Boonshoft is actually better than the Children's Museum in Cincy. Maybe it's because we've been to the one in Cincy at least a zillion times and Boonshoft was brand new to us, but honestly I think it really is better. We are going again in a couple of weeks, if anyone is interested in meeting us there on a Friday. (Oh and btw if you have a Cincy Museum Center pass it is totally FREE to get into Boonshoft with the reciprocity program. FREE.)

The whole crew headed to Boonshoft on our last day together and here are some of my favorite photos from the day!

Bea looks in the window of the space shuttle longingly at big sister Josie. (All in good time Bea; you'll be running around with your big sister before we all know it.)

Moments before I yelled "Lou, seriously?!" across the room as I saw Lou climbing a 2-story rope net with Bea in the Ergo -

A little brother project for Michael & Stevie -

And I was almost convinced that we need a giant pegboard wall in our house -

Josie camouflages herself, save one little pink detail -

 "Robot Zoo" - Josie controls a frog tongue to catch flies -

Bea gets a good nap -

 And Josie decides she wants a platypus -

Isn't she lovely?

Meanwhile, Josie decides to climb on top of the hot rod in the "Auto Shop". Two funny things happened. 1) Lou & I broke into "Grease Lightning" - hand motions and all - and Josie has never been so confused in her life. It was hysterical.

 2) Josie decided to take it for a drive and all these little boys piled on the hood and roof and it looked exactly like a scene out of ZombieLand.

Bea enjoyed the H2O exhibit -

Jack enjoyed the rented stroller -

 Lyla & Josie made a Baby Bea sandwich -

Super Bea zoomed through the galaxy -

And Josie posed in her new tutu from Tia -

The kids had a blast in the Hurricane machine (with Lyla and Jack's  'other cousins') -

And then a group of very worn out little ones called it a day -

Oh - here's a Schneider family memory for you - Josie actually "went missing" at the museum. I was feeding Bea in the cafeteria and Lou came running in screaming that he couldn't find Josie.  She was supposed to go in a tunnel and come out the other side where Lou was waiting, but never did. Every parent's worst nightmare, right? My mom took Bea and I sprung into action. The employees (obviously having done this a zillion times before) had a whole protocol in place. They directed me to guest services where I had to write down a description to be radioed over the walky-talky system.   It was SO unlike Josie to disappear because she makes it a point to never let either of us out of her sight.  So, we were a little panicky.  To this day, we have NO IDEA where she actually went.  When we found her, the answer she gave us was that she just wanted to go play by herself.  Knowing Josie, there is definitely more to the story and she will tell us when she's ready. We had a long talk about what happened, and to add some lightness to the story, the little stinker told us after the whole ordeal, "I was really really scared too mommy. I was so scared because I was lost. But I do think I will feel better if we go buy something at that gift shop."   Oh Josie.

So, would I recommend BounceU? - Yep, in a pinch if you are in need of some serious bouncing action and don't mind that the average age is close to 10 when it should be closer to 6. Oh, and it smells like Junior High in there. Trust me.

Would we recommend Boonshoft? Enthusiastically and then some!!

Part Two, Christmas in Xenia

After a pretty fabulous Christmas at home, we packed up the car and headed to Xenia for Christmas Part Two.  We arrived late afternoon on Christmas Eve to a very excited LylaBird, Sweet Jack, Tia, Tio, Grandma & DD.  What followed was several days of holiday cheer.

Here are some of our favorite photos from Christmas in Xenia.

Who knew Grandma & DD were such personal friends with Santa, who very graciously swung by the house on his way back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve? The girls were thrilled!

And this one cracks me up. Josie is not so sure about Santa touching her and Jack gets a closer look.

Grandma gets the annual matching jammies (dating back to a Johnson sister tradition).
 Ly & J cuddle for a movie.

Santa has been here!

Josie dives right in!

And spots her "Mrs. Claus" dress that she had been dreaming about since Thanksgiving.

Bea eats her gifts with enthusiasm.

And we try to get both girls in the same picture and kinda succeed...kinda.

Lyla gets her doctor's kit.

 Josie adds to her nail polish collection.

My favorite! Josie asked to sign this package for Grandma & DD and I didn't help her with any of the words. I hope they liked their recorded picture frame from "Josie, Dad, Butrist, Venis and Mom". The whole "Bustrist" for Beatrice cracks me up. B - uh - trist: love it.

A girl & her golden tea set

Josie gets super pumped about more books in her favorite series!

Jack gets his train.

And we all cheered when Lyla yelled out "my roller coaster" when she opened her scooter. (Whew!)

Next year little ones, next year...

Josie tries out the first of many new dress-ups.

I captured the Jack look! Hilarious!

Josie looks 18!

More dress-ups, more books!

A trip to Chicago in our new future

Grandma, who will kill me for posting these, gets a big SURPRISE for Christmas. Bengals/Ravens tickets. She was so shocked and so happy. Clearly.  (Good job DD!)

A little holiday hot-tubbin.

Sweet Josie helps Grandma set the Christmas table. (Love these!)

 ...(Senior portrait Carri approves).

Bea crawls around and explores.

Mrs. Claus test drives a remote control car.

A not-posed photo of Lou and his baby girl
 And a posed one
 Me & Baby Bea!

Annual Christmas photo shoot (exposing some Irish roots, am I right?)

Andy why did we do this right before Bea's nap?!

Christmas dinner at the kids' table!

And then there were several more days of relaxed play, cookies and cousins (but not many photos).

Couldn't resist a photo of all the music-playing, light-up friends that kept the party going!

These girls!!

I love that the kids will have memories of "Christmas at Grandma & DD's house" to always think back on with a smile.