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Dakota- Holidays for an almost 2-year-old

So I may not be trying for a fancy photo on odd numbered months now, but I figure I can post some random non-staged pics from the past month and maybe type out a few highlights while I’m at it. Sooo…..

The end of the year is an easy month for highlights, what with the holidays and all. 🙂 But first, it finally rained a lot in California! We got Dakota some boots:

Rain boots

Also on the more practical side, Dakota needs some extra diaper leak protection at night, so I knitted her a so-called “wool soaker”. Unfortunately it’s not quite long enough in the back to cover the top of her nighttime diaper, but it works great to prevent leaks around the leg holes.

Wool soaker

Back to the holidays though… we did a bit of a grab bag of things this year to see what traditions we’d like to carry on to future years. This is the first year we bought an actual tree, though it was only 3 feet tall and we stuck to Styrofoam ornaments. Dakota kept trying to put all the ornaments on the same branch, of course. 😉

tree decorating

We had a fun Chanukah/Yule dinner/celebration with some friends, dubbed Chanuyule. 😀 We made a delicious yule log cake… Well actually I wasn’t involved in the baking, but I enjoyed the eating part. Dakota is starting to get into wanting to help cook, so we try to give her ways to “help”, like mixing the dry ingredients. She is starting to learn the art of licking the spatula…


She was pretty into the Chanukah candle lighting too, and she could even more or less say “Baruch ata Adonai” (though not the rest of the song/prayer) along with us by the end of the week. She also enjoyed opening a small present each night of Chanukah, which was a good warm-up for xmas day with the grandparents. Here she is getting into the present opening; most likely at this point we were all egging her on with cries of “rip it!”

Opening presents

She really loved giving other people their presents (“For zhYou!” is my best approximation of what she says while handing stuff to people.) and “helping” open them. Here she is assisting Grandpa. She makes this exaggerated surprise face that I loovveeeee:

present helper

She got a bunch of new toys of course, (sigh) and I’m curious to see which will have the longest fun value. Unfortunately, we’ve already misplaced an early favorite: an inexpensive light-up bouncy ball from her stocking. You can throw all sorts of fancy stuff at her, but balls are still the best. 🙂 Sorry we lost you, light-up ball… at least I got a picture!


Virginia was a little cold (for us) but otherwise the weather was nice, so we ventured outside for some family pictures and toddler-tossing:

toddler tossing

And we got to do some deer watching/stalking on multiple occasions. We managed to get a bit closer than this, but I didn’t get a picture that time.


I was  assuming that Dakota would be pretty shy/clingy around all the new people since that’s been her norm for the past few months, but she really got into the excitement of so many new playmates. I dunno if it was just new-people-overload or if she’s just generally getting more comfortable interacting with unfamiliar people, but it was so fun to see. Here she is playing with her aunt, technically not a new person, but last-seen in August:

And she really did great with traveling coast to coast, though it’ll be a relief in many ways (but not for my wallet) when she gets her own seat on the plane. I think she actually liked the shuttle bus ride to and from the parking lot more than she liked the actual airplanes. Here we are heading to our car back in California:

Bus ride

And thus ended our holiday adventures!

Well, this vaguely-narrated photo dump has actually been fun! Maybe I’ll remember to do it again in two months. Happy New Year!



Belated Holiday Decorations

Well, the holidays are wrapping up and in all the excitement I didn’t get around to posting the pictures of our decorations. So here are a few belated holiday sparkles for you.

Things weren’t very different from last year… Here’s our patio penguin still being slightly creepy:

Front Door

We did manage to procure and decorate a door wreath, so that’s nice and all:


The stockings were hung from our nonexistent mantle:


This picture was before I finished knitting Dakota’s stocking. It doesn’t match the other stockings at all, so it’s probably just as well. I did hang it up at the grandparents’:

Knit stocking

Back to MY house though, this year I grabbed a pack of sparkly snowflakes from the craft store and taped them up haphazardly all over the house, which you can see in the many-stockinged picture above, as well as the next picture below.

Carrying our advent calendar theme into the kitchen, we strung up some more twine so we could display the holiday cards we got with clothespins. I’m thinking this might actually stay up year round… We’ll see. I like keeping the front of the fridge clear of clutter, so this acts as a substitute for fridge-worthy items.

Card holders

This was actually before I put the bulk of the cards up, it’s quite full now.

And as I was taking these pictures (two weeks ago now, sigh) Dakota was just figuring out how to pull up on things, so here she is demonstrating:

Dakota Standing

Happy holidays!


Colorful Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Detail

I think it’s safe to say that I barely knew what an advent calendar was before Pinterest came along. Now I can’t live without one! Darn you, Pinterest! 😉

Anyway, last year’s calendar was a bit late and not too exciting looking, but we still thought it was awesome. This year I stuffed my pockets with coupons and headed out to Michael’s… Not exactly with a plan, but with some vague ideas of what I wanted to do. Here’s what I ended up with:

Card Stock

Three dollars worth of colorful card stock and some quick googling on how to fold a piece of paper into a baggy. And since the camera was handy, here is my garbled attempt at explaining how to fold a paper bag…

Fold in half and tape the edge opposite the fold:

paper bag step 1

Fold both of the long sides in a little bit (I cut a piece of scrap paper as a guide to keep the fold sizes consistent):

paper bag step 2

Unfold and refold the sides so the middle folds point inward. You know, like the sides of a paper bag:

paper bag step 3

Now fold the bottom up (I used the long side of my piece of scrap paper to keep this fold a consistent size):

paper bag step 4

And brush off your mad origami skills to press open the bottom so it looks like this:

paper bag step 5

Then fold the open edges in so they overlap, and tape them together:

paper bag step 6

Now you have a bag! Mine is tall and narrow so I can fold the top down:

paper bag step 7

I also picked up a number stencil while I was at Michael’s, and after some contemplation I put the numbers on little circles of white card stock. I used a shot glass to trace the circles.

stenciled numbers

To hang, I knew we had plenty of ribbon and twine around the house so I didn’t have to buy anything. We settled on twine… And I have tons of clothespins, so that was a no-brainer.

Advent Calendar

For now we’re just putting chocolate in the bags for us grownups, but maybe I’ll add more fun stuff in future years. Whatever will keep this little one entertained!

Gratuitous baby pic


Quick, Cheap Advent Calendar

We procrastinate on everything, so on December 3 when I was suddenly struck with the idea of making our own advent calendar, (I blame Pinterest) I was not at all deterred by the fact that we were already 3 days late. So I stopped by the drugstore and picked up $4 worth of holiday greeting cards and $10 worth of chocolate. My plan was simple enough: number the envelopes and tape them up on the wall in the shape of a tree.

Adent Calendar construction

I was hoping for more colorful envelopes, but for $2 for a pack of 15 cards/envelopes, I’m not complaining. My backup plan was to pull the greeting cards out each day to slowly make the tree more colorful. Here’s how it looked right after I finished my taping job:

Advent Calendar Ready to Go

The white envelopes each have an individually wrapped chocolate square in them. The red envelopes were too small to fit any chocolates into. Here’s how it looks today:


And here’s a wider view. It’s watching benevolently over our dining table:
Dining Room Advent Calendar

Yup, and there’s our excuse to add a little extra chocolate into each day this month.

Totally Boring Thanksgiving Food Post

This post doesn’t really require much in the way of words… We had a Thanksgiving dinner, we made a huge mess in the kitchen, it was fun. Just know that I took a lot more pictures that didn’t make it into this post, and I combined picture sequences where appropriate to reduce the total number of food pictures even more. You’re welcome. 😀

First up, Julie orchestrated the creation of a carrot cake:

And the finished product: (I didn’t catch any pictures of the icing-making process, try not to be too sad about that…)

Julie also gathered the supplies for and started making a cheesy broccoli casserole, but had to run to work, so I finished up:

After that I got caught up in a video chat with family members, so Dave pretty much did all my work for me: cranberry sauce (no picture) and sweet potatoes:

Then Dave went crazy trying out Alton Brown’s super-scientific pie-crust making technique. Apparently I had to get a picture of each step in the process:

Moving along, Here are some sweet spiced pecans:

Yup. And here are some garlicky green beans:

And of course, the turkey… Pre-roasting:

And post-roasting:

And last but not least, the gravy:

Here’s the table right before we started eating. I’m not going to win any awards for place-setting:

And then we ate it! The end. Thanks for reading. 🙂