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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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

tree decorating

We had a fun Chanukah/Yule dinner/celebration with some friends, dubbed Chanuyule. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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…

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry we lost you, light-up ball… at least I got a picture!

stocking

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.

IMG_6247

I wasย  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:

Wreath

The stockings were hung from our nonexistent mantle:

Stockings

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!

 

Holiday Decorations, Part 2

When I saw this light-up penguin, I knew we had to have it:

(Loki was a bit freaked out when he first saw it.)

I wish I could say I was really cool and made it myself, but no, it was just a totally-worth-it splurge. ๐Ÿ™‚ It has a strand of white lights strung up inside to light it up, and we’re contemplating doing some surgery and replacing the old-school lights with LEDs. It shouldn’t be all that hard, the way they’re attached.

And then there’s our monster wreath:

(I'm pretty sure there's still a door behind it somewhere...)

Most of the wreaths we were seeing in stores were either pretty small (and by small I mean normal-sized) or already decked out in red decorations. But I held out, and finally found a wreath I approved of. I added the silver and blue parts, and we hung it!! It hasn’t fallen off so far, and the door still swings normally, so I’m calling it a success. here’s the front of the house all put together:

(And I'm finally getting better at photo editing, so the entire front patio isn't gloomy shadow.)

Holiday Decorations, Part 1

Since it was just the two if us, we kept our Thanksgiving celebration pretty minimal: chicken, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, kale, and wine. It was a bit heavy on the sweet side (our preferred kale recipe uses dried cherries and apple cider, among other things) but the whole dinner was easy to make and we finished off all of the leftovers in the next two days.

(Wooo macro shot.)

Anyway, I’ve been way too excited to get some xmas decorations up. Last year we bought a few decorations and, feeling feisty, we decided to go with a blue and silver theme instead of the traditional red and green. It wasn’t until later that we realized that those were pretty much Hanukkah colors, which is just fine with us. ๐Ÿ™‚ We had gotten some blue and white outdoor LED light strands and had haphazardly strung them up last year. This year I wanted to frame our house oh-so-nicely, so we got some gutter clips and I started obsessively switching out LEDs so the strands would alternate blue and white:

(A glass of wine makes the work go faster.)

Dave had never hung xmas lights from gutters before, so while he didn’t really need any help, I went up and directed him. And when we got to the end we didn’t have quite as much lights left as I wanted for the appropriate hanging effect I wanted, so I went all the way back and shifted everything over a few feet. Dave just sat back and let me do that part, he can tell when I’m getting obsessive. ๐Ÿ™‚

(I look pretty precarious in the shot, but I'm a big wimp so trust that I'm actually pretty far from the edge...)

We also bought a nifty light-up decoration for our front patio, but I didn’t get a picture, so too bad. Well, I’ll do a separate post for it, and you’ll just have to wait in suspense until then.

The last thing we did was hang the stockings. Actually, first we hung a mirror over the fireplace, because the lack of mantle made the stockings look pretty weird. Having a mirror there balances things out a bit.

(Dave, me, Loki, Callie, Pollux, Castor. Good thing the little stockings were super cheap.)

We’ve had that mirror forever, and now I have the strong urge to either paint it white or stain it really dark. We’ll be replacing the faux-brick… someday… so I guess I should wait until then before deciding on the mirror. Anyway, there are more decorations in the works, so i guess I’ll take more pictures and post them soon.