All tagged Christmas in Seattle
This year we hosted our first annual Cookie Decorating party. I have wanted to host one of these for awhile, but Jasper's recent enthusiasm for baking encouraged me to finally do so this year. We kept the guest list short and made stacks of delicious gingerbread ahead of time. We had a fun filled morning with friends and I was reminded how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends. The amount of joy seen on these children's faces while they were chasing each other around or decorating cookies made all my efforts feel so worthwhile. Children are the best and watching your friend's children grow to love your own children is truly the best!
Every family does their Christmas tree shopping a little differently. Some people like tall trees, some people like short fat trees and other people like to find the saddest little tree they can and bring it home. Some families go to tree lots, tree farms, out in the woods, nurseries or even the grocery store. When Cameron and I were dating we selected our tree based on price, ease and convenience. We found the best looking tree the closest to Cameron's apartment and walked it home. Once we were married we continued this tradition for several years until we moved to a different place. That year, the closest place with trees for sale was Home Depot and once again we continued the tradition of walking our tree home. The following year we lived in a condo which was located near our local nursery and for a couple years we walked our tree home, shoved it in the elevator, took it for a ride up six floors to our place leaving a trail of pine needles as we went. Once we were in our house for the first time in our life we drove our tree home. After moving into our new home last year we decided to keep things simple and selected a tree we could easily put in the back of our car. Even though our beloved nursery delivers there is something so gratifying in selecting a tree, bringing it home and decorating it in one evening. Over the years, our Christmas trees keep getting smaller and smaller, but I think that is in large part because we are partial to the small and slightly chubby type. This year since we will be out of town for Christmas we decided to forgo getting a tree, but the Christmas spirit and one enthusiastic little boy quickly changed my mind about that.
There is no denying this time of year is a busy one. This year, in an effort to savor the season rather than run ourselves ragged we have tried to limit our evening commitments and instead save our energy for the things which really matter. Instead of focusing our time, efforts and money on searching for the perfect gifts to give we are trying to focus on being together, making memories and remembering the Savior. Jasper has reached the age where he is equally interested in learning about Santa as he is Jesus so this year seemed like a good time to start learning about why we really celebrate Christmas. Over the past few weeks, our home has perpetually been filled with scents of warm gingerbread and pine and I keep thinking to myself, surely Christmas is here. Nope, with Thanksgiving a little early this year we just got a head start.
Last year, we stumbled upon the Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmount Olympic Hotel Seattle during our staycation. This year we made it a point to check it out again while we were downtown on Black Friday. This year marks the nineteenth anniversary of the Teddy Bear Suite. As a curious toddler, Jasper was very enthusiastic about the teddy bears and spent our entire visit repeatedly saying "teddy bear". Since he surprisingly does not own any teddy bears (just other kind of animals) I did not know he could even say teddy bear. It is so fun to see his little spirit develop and how freely he gives of his love and excitement to all he encounters whether that be a mail truck or a room full of teddy bears.
Some days time just gets away from me. Usually, it is a bi product of having too much fun, staying up too late, and packing too much in. But this past week has been filled with doctor appointments, too many viruses, too much coughing, not enough sleeping and lots of medicine for our family. However, I am happy to report we are on the mend and grateful we survived this long Thanksgiving weekend of trying to have fun amidst feeling crummy.
With the holidays fast approaching I thought it would be fun to feature a few past holiday D.I.Y.s First, a Thanksgiving round up which includes a couple fun table settings, a quick and easy hostess gift wrap and a simple handmade leaf pin for all your guests.
As many of you know, our first son, Asher's due date was Christmas day. This year we were suppose to find out the gender of our third child the week of Christmas, but an unfortunate miscarriage in October put an end to that. Ever since Asher passed away I have made it a tradition to make tiny little wreaths to put around our house during the holidays to remember him by. Initially, it was a good way for me to channel my sadness during that first Christmas. I distinctly remember that first Christmas when we so painfully felt the loss of our first born- I had a realization where I finally realized why some people could carry such disdain for the holidays. In subsequent years, it has become a symbol of his ever important presence in our family and now the missed presence of yet another child. These little wreaths are also a good reminder to keep the holidays simple and provide a gentle nudge to focus on what really matters. The first year I made these because I was too grief stricken to do much in the way of Christmas decorating, but since then these little wreaths have brought me a lot of happiness and peace as I look at them each day whether it be in the bathroom, bedroom or on the refrigerator.
There is nothing more magical than witnessing the excitement of a small child- Christmas this year was no exception. Jasper is the perfect age to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas without having any expectations for what the season might hold. Christmas morning was spent at home as a family of three and then later in the afternoon at my parent's home. My parent's home is the epitome of every child's dream with each room thoughtfully decorated and lavish meals abounding with food and flavor. Jasper, just like his parents are always impressed and inspired when we visits Grandma's and Grandpa's home.
There is nothing quite like celebrating the holidays with a small child. The wonder and awe even a single strand of lights provides is a good reminder that Christmas time needn't be busy, over scheduled or expensive to be enjoyable- in fact it is more enjoyable if it is none of those things. This year I have tried my best to keep things simple. We forewent getting a large Christmas tree and instead invited our favorite little tree inside for a couple of weeks. This year I have not bought very many gifts, left most of our Christmas decorations in their box and spent very little time at the mall. Instead I made a simple advent calendar and we have been filling our evenings with hot cocoa, impromptu dance parties, walks and drives to look at the Christmas lights and even a Christmas movie or two once Jasper goes to bed.
Each Christmas season we make it a point to go on the Christmas Ships. We have left from Kirkland, Pier 55, and Shilshoe Bay. Each year we can count on a chilly night on the water, festive music blaring in our ears and lots of beautiful Christmas lights. This year, same as last year we left from Shilshoe Bay. We made our way through the Ballard Locks and then over to Golden Gardens. Since it was a clear night, there were a good number of parade boats following behind the Christmas Ship. Most of the parade boats were sailboats which had christmas lights strung over their lines. Being out on the water surrounded by lights and music felt like a quintessential Christmas in the northwest kind of night.
For anyone who has a small child it probably feels like every day is Christmas. Small children are constantly outgrowing, wearing out or in need of something and Christmas is just a good excuse to wrap up all those adorable gifts you have been stock piling over the past few months. It might just be me, but when it is small it is cute and when it is cute I am tempted to snatch it up. A long time ago I saw a good idea to give your child three gifts for Christmas; something to wear, something to play with and something to read. I really liked this idea as a good starting point for my Christmas shopping and if I had more self control that would be all I was buying. Instead, I remind myself Jasper will only be little once and he will only be able to fit into tiny plaid shirts and coonskin caps while roasting marshmallows over his play fire for so long.
For the second year in a row we took Jasper for the obligatory Santa photo. Since Jasper was so small last year it wasn't much of a feat to have him happily sit on Santa's lap, but this year we were uncertain how he was going to react this year. This year we also planned ahead forewent the three hour wait and visited Santa at a time he was less busy.
Downtown Seattle is such a fun and vibrant place this time of year, but there is also a lot going on in other parts of the city. We wandered down to South Lake Union during our staycation over Black Friday and were delighted to find so much to see and do. There were ships open for touring with complimentary hot cocoa and coffee, choirs performing, and an opportunity to make and festively decorate your own wooden boat from the Center for Wooden Boats. The best part of all these activities, was they were either free or by small donation.
This year we decided to mix things up and spent the evening of Black Friday in downtown Seattle. Normally, on Black Friday we have a tradition of doing a little shopping in the morning and then heading home to a local nursery to pick out our Christmas tree. Then we spend the rest of the evening decorating the tree and listening to Christmas tunes. Instead of our usual tradition, we jumped on the bus downtown armed with an overnight bag and eagerly anticipated our weekend adventure in the city. Although we spend a lot of time downtown in general we have not stayed at hotel in the city for over ten years.
Each Holiday season I like to create an advent calendar. The focus is not necessarily a countdown to Christmas, rather a tool to help us enjoy the season. This year I took twenty five mini craft paper boxes and filled them with slips of paper listing an activity we can do together as a family. Then I glued a little bottle brush tree on top and tied it up with a ribbon.