Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

I had a great time visiting family and friends in Lethbridge for a few days before Mark came down with Deanna and Dave on the 21st. It was our 6th Anniversary on the 22nd and we were able to enjoy a nice lunch out while my mom and sisters babysat the boys. The cousins had a great time playing games and got to try out one of my old favourites - Hungry Hippos!
Zach had fun doing puzzles with Great-Grandpa Smith.
Since we were going to be heading back home the next day, we had our Bennett Christmas celebrations on the 22nd. In past years we've always had a oil fondue, but with so many kids running around we thought it would be safer to change it up. Instead we ordered in some Chinese - yummy food with no prep work. Brilliant! I think this may stick as a new tradition - at least until the kids are much older.
Our family has grown big enough that the kids get to sit at their own table.
After dinner we read the Christmas story, opened gifts and the kids performed some songs for us.
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Blake was loving his cuddles from Grandma.
We were all a bit distracted during the opening of gifts, when we realized Blake was having a little snack of wrapping paper. Yum! Maybe he's telling me it's time to bring on the solid food!
Mom and Dad seemed to like the scrapbook we made of our family trip to Mexico last Christmas.
After gifts we bundled everyone up to go to the Live Nativity at the church. Zach loved it - especially seeing the real donkey and sheep.

After arriving back home to Edmonton later the next day, we joined with some friends to check out Candy Cane Lane - 8 city blocks of houses decorated with Christmas lights. The boys loved it! Zach kept saying "Wowzers"! His favourite decoration was hands down the inflatable Santa in a helicopter.

On Christmas Eve we spent the morning getting ready for all our Christmas festivities. Blake even caught some hockey with his Dad.

One longstanding Christmas Eve tradition of the Corie family is to decorate gingerbread men. Zach was excited to help his dad make the yummy icing. He was sporting his fancy new apron made by his Grandma Bennett.
Grandma Corie gave Zach his first lessons in the art of gingerbread men decorating.
The finished product!
Grandpa Corie and Zach were our expert taste testers to ensure quality control.
Blake sure loves his Grandpa ... and Sophie the Giraffe.

Zach was thrilled with the neck warmer (aka blindfold) from his grandparents. Mark is so excited to take him for his first skiing experience. Zach is now ready to hit the slopes ... as soon as we actually get some good snow!
Mary put together some super cute desk calendars for Mom & Dad Corie.

Christmas morning was a bit more chaotic than usual as we had church at 9am. We managed to get everyone up and opened stockings beforehand, but saved the opening of gifts until afterwards.

Zach got his first train set this Christmas and was just a little excited, to say the least. It's made for hours of fun, especially with his dad. I'm not sure who enjoys it more?! Mark is already insisting that we need another extension kit and more train accessories. HA!

Later in the day, we headed to Mark's grandparents for a fun white elephant gift exchange and delicious Christmas dinner. Below are the boys in their matching Christmas sweaters.
Grandma and Grandpa Aylwin were definitely the most festive in the group! It was such a nice evening and great of them to host so many of us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fun in Fairmont

On December 9th, the boys and I headed down to Calgary to spend the night at the Kutarna's before heading to Fairmont for a week getaway with some friends. The kids got along great - so well in fact that we left them upstairs to play by themselves for awhile. We heard a TON of giggling and finally went up to investigate - and found this ...

We found them jumping on the bed, having pulled out all the clothes from Natalie's dresser. They also got decked out in the girl's swimsuits. AWESOME! I guess they might not be quite ready to be left completely alone at this point ...

While the older kids played upstairs, the little ones were having a little fun as well. Blake and Navy enjoyed a ride in the swing together. It's so fun to have had both of our kids so close together!
Blake also tried out the jolly jumper for the first time. Clearly, he loved it!
Later that night, Alex's sister and her boyfriend were able to come babysit the two toddlers (huge thank you!) while the adults and babies went to the Flexhaug's Annual Ugly Sweater/Mustache/Egg Nog Party. I was so excited to be able to go this year and catch up with many great friends from our days back in Calgary. It was such a fun night!! Here's a picture of all the girls in our very fashionable sweaters.
You may notice our stylish accessories ... Alex and I actually pulled Christmas decorations off her tree to use as earrings. So snazzy, indeed!

The next day we made our trek out to Fairmont to spend a week with two friends, Rachel & Lisa, and all of their kiddos. Lisa's family has a time share and she invited us all to join her and her son for a fun getaway in the mountains. The condo was huge and beautiful! There were six kids in total (including two 4 1/2 month olds). It was definitely an adventure trying to keep everyone entertained and happy, but Zach and I sure had a fantastic time!
I can't thank Lisa and Rachel enough for such a fabulous week. As much fun as it was during the day, we definitely looked forward to the evenings after the kids were in bed and we could just relax, watch chick flicks and chat. We stayed up too late almost every night (and ate way too many cookies and ice cream) but it was worth it! Thanks ladies!!

Here's a collection of photos from our fun-filled week together:

Rachel brought spray bottles and filled them with food colouring. They had a blast spraying a rainbow of colours in the snow. We had to end the fun, however, when they started spraying each other!
All the kids with their spray bottles.

They played with playdough, went on treasure hunts, decorated gingerbread men and Christmas rice krispie cutouts, coloured with stickers, and just had a great time making up their own fun!
Lauren was definitely the crafty one in the group and would stay at least twice as long to work on her masterpieces. Such a sweetheart!!

Although Zach and Lauren appear to be playing nicely for the moment, it usually didn't last long whenever these two were in the same room. It was rare that they could be near each other without one of them giving the other a little hit or a shove. We even got to witness occasional wrestling matches! It was quite humorous to watch, although it did get kind of exasperating by the end of the week.
Rachel made some yummy PB&J Reindeer sandwiches for the kiddos. So creative!!

There was a beautiful pool table in the front room, but within minutes of arriving we could see that the kids + the pool balls + the cues were not going to be a good mix. Lisa was brilliant by transforming the pool table into an awesome fort, and she also brought an extra mattress up from downstairs. It became the favourite room to play in and these boys sure had fun being 'little monkeys jumping on the bed'!

There was a small hill right near the condo that was a perfect size for the kids. For Zach's first real sledding experience, he did awesome. A few times he got a face full of snow, but he was always up for another run. Dmitri was the most experienced sledder of the crew and definitely looked like he was ready for some extreme sledding!
Zach loved to follow the older boys around all day, especially Dmitri. He would come out of his room in the morning or after naps, and immediately be asking for his friend 'Mitri'.

We also went to the Fairmont Hot Springs a couple of times. The first time we took all the kids and babies. I wasn't sure how Zach would do as he hates being cold, but the really warm water made up for it and as long as he was in the water, he loved it! The second time I stayed back with the babies while Lisa and Rachel took the other kids. With the wind chill, it got just a bit too cold for the littlest ones.
Almost every evening before bed, the kids got to play in the big jacuzzi tub. They used the ledge at the back as a water slide, so it was always quite the party! On our last night there, Rachel pulled out glow sticks and the kids were totally enthralled!
Lesson Learned:
I thought Zach's glow stick would make a fun night light, so without thinking, I gave it to him in the playpen. About 15 minutes after putting him to bed I heard him shrieking and went to investigate. Well to my utter shock I found Zach with a glowing green mouth, and spots of green all over his pyjamas and playpen. Yikes! I sure didn't think he would be able to chew through the stick! After a quick call to poison control to confirm it wasn't toxic, I gave him a good wash and he went back to bed. Sorry Zach!!

We headed straight to Lethbridge the next morning and made a stop for lunch by the famous Sparwood truck. Zach is really into learning about trucks and machines lately, so he was in total amazement!
Look how tiny he is compared to the tire!
A great end to a fabulous week ... now onto more good times in Lethbridge!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas!

Since I will be heading out of town for a couple weeks right before Christmas, and I'm in charge of the ward Christmas party, I've had to get everything ready for Christmas ahead of time. No procrastinating this year! Zach is still a bit young to understand everything, but it is so much fun to watch his excitement so far with even the littlest things to do with Christmas. This is definitely my favourite time of year so we've had Christmas music playing for a couple weeks now. Mark and Zach surprised me and brought up the Christmas tree to decorate in mid-November. I wasn't sure if Mark was going to go for putting it up at all this year. He feels that the tree and 3 huge storage bins of Christmas decorations are a bit excessive (especially since we've had to move it all at least twice!) I'm starting to think that having kids is bringing Mark out of his 'humbug' state though. HA! With Christmas music blaring, we put up the tree and decorated the house. Zach was hilarious throughout the whole process and was jumping up and down, shouting 'hooray' with each piece we put up. After we turned on the lights he spent the next while trying to blow out all the 'candles'.

He was also in awe watching Mark put up all the outdoor Christmas lights. He kept saying, "So pretty, Mom!"
We waited until Deanna could come over with the girls to actually decorate the tree.
Zach insisted on putting at least 10 decorations in the same spot.

To follow last year's 'tradition', we took the boys to see Santa Claus with their cousin Claire at the West Edmonton Mall. Zach has been watching the 'Barney Christmas' movie from the library, but I was still surprised when he seemed to understand who we were going to see. He spent the entire day talking about it and was so antsy to get out the door that evening. We thought it would be the best time to go as last year we hardly had to wait in line. Well, it was much busier this year and we were in line for almost an hour. That not an easy feat with a baby, a 1 yr old & a 2 yr old, especially right at their bedtime.

They were actually doing fantastic right up to the time when Zach & Blake were next to go up. We planned to have Zach go first to show Claire how excited he was and hopefully prevent her from being too scared of Santa. Well ... as luck would have it, out of no where, Claire ran up to Zach and gave him a little push. He fell off a little ledge and knocked his head on the 'Letters to Santa' mailbox. The timing was actually quite comical as a previously very excited boy was now bawling his eyes out. We had Claire go first to give Zach time to calm down, but she was terrified and cried the whole time (resulting in an awesome Santa photo for her - haha). It didn't help that this Santa was not so smiley, but this was the best photo we could get. Oh well - it made for a lot of laughs for the adults at least!! Maybe next year ...

Lauren and Keira also came over this week to make a gingerbread train and some Christmas ornaments. I think Zach ate more candy than he put on the train, but they sure had a good time. Christmas can't come soon enough!!