New Year's Eve 2014

We had a very low-key New Year's Eve this year.  We were leaving the next morning to drive to Kansas City, so we wanted to make it an early night.  My friend Stephanie from work had a few people over, so we went to their house.  Their son Owen is Jack's age and their daughter Clara is a little younger than Charlie.  And there were a few other families there too.
The noise makers were a huge hit!

Charlie, Owen, Jack, their neighbor (can't remember his name), Clara and their other friend (can't remember her name)

A nice game of Hungry Hungry Hippo

We celebrated midnight at about 9:30 and we were home and in bed by about 10:00.  It was a great way to end 2014!

Christmas 2014

We all had another great Christmas this year!  It started on Christmas Eve at my parents' house as usual.  We exchanged gifts with Grandma and Grandpa first.  I only took one picture.  We gave Grandpa some pillows made from his old ties (which he had cut in half at his retirement party in 2008 and I had secretly saved).
Then my mom's family came over to celebrate.

Then Santa came to our house.  The boys loved their gifts, especially their new Leap Pad 2s, which Santa should have strategically placed at the bottom of the pile so they wouldn't be distracted from their remaining gifts.  Santa will learn...

I'll spare you the full long video of opening Santa's gifts, but here is a little glimpse of our morning...
After we finished with our Santa gifts, we headed over to Aunt Cyndi and Uncle Todd's house to exchange gifts and have breakfast with them.

We surprised the kids with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City.  We left on New Year's Day, so more on the trip in a future post, but the "surprise" is worth discussing.  Cyndi and I debated the best way to tell the kids and came up with these little laminated puzzle pieces.

Let's just say it was not as successful as we were hoping.  See video:
We did a quick visit with the Lang side of the family at my Aunt Jean's house (no pictures, bummer) and then ended the night back with the Claytons at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

We had another busy, but very nice holiday!!

Cakeway to the West

This year St. Louis was celebrating its 250th anniversary, so they created the Cakeway to the West.  They basically enlisted lots of artists to create cakes commemorating various sites and events in St. Louis.  There were 250 cakes and they were scattered around the city.  It became a scavenger hunt of sorts.  We did not set out to see them all, but we did take pictures any time we came across one.  Here are the cakes we saw:
Grant's Farm (May)

Busch Stadium (June)

Transportation Museum (July)

Botanical Gardens (this was the end of our visit and I don't think Charlie wanted to leave) (July)
Laclede's Landing (August)
Forest Park (December)

Art Museum (December)
I think this one is from Creve Coeur Park

Looking back, I wish we had made a bigger effort to see more of them, but at least we saw a few.


Other Miscellaneous December

Just a few other non-holiday updates from December.  First, Charlie had his 3-month check-up at the eye doctor.  They said his eye was making progress, but to speed things up a little he recommended we get him a patch.  He suggested starting with 2 hours a day to see if it helped.  The idea is that you cover up the good eye with the patch to strengthen the weaker eye.
We bought these little patches that slip right over his glasses.  We told Charlie he would look like a pirate, so he was a little excited at first.  Once we put the patch on, however, he was less into it.  I honestly think he's not seeing as well out of his left eye, so I'm sure that was part of it.  He looks awfully cute in his little patch!!

He has been a total trooper and doesn't put up much of a fight when we put it on him.  He generally wears it all morning (we're overachievers like that) except for school days, where he just wears it from when he wakes up until we get to school (about 1.5-2 hours).

Just a few pictures of Charsie being silly...

 After he took his headband off, he had crazy hair (and a Zoolander-esque pose)...
 A few days later Jack too his hat off in Old Navy and he had he same hair...
My Mom and I had a double date with my friend Rebecca and her mom to the Fox to see Straight No Chaser.  We LOVE this a capella group and we go see them every year.  VERY talented and very entertaining.  Fun night!

And finally, one night I came out to the living room and the boys were lying like this watching tv.  Turns out they can be so sweet.....sometimes.

Pre-Christmas Activities

Leading up to Christmas, we did some of our normal traditions and added a few new ones.

One Saturday we were watching our nieces and decided to try out a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt I saw on a blog.  It was so much fun!  This is definitely a tradition we will be continuing!  Luckily we had a reader in the car (Mia) so we gave them each a copy of the checklist, a clipboard and a pen, and we drove slowly up and down all the streets in our neighborhood with the interior lights on.  They got so excited when they spotted something and Mia helped them identify which item they needed to check off.  We found almost every item on the list just in our neighborhood.

 We met Santa at Bass Pro, as we do every year.  We had a few attempts because the lines were crazy this year, but we saw him at long last.

Two smiling boys on Santa's lap!!  That is a first in our house...
We broke our tradition of getting a real Christmas tree this year and bought an artificial one.  I'm not ruling out getting a real tree again some day (I'd love to have one tree upstairs and one downstairs eventually), but for now we're going with the artificial tree, and it was SO easy!

Another new thing this year: Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo. Our friends the Dahls had three extra tickets because their friends got sick, so the boys and I got to go with them, and it was so much fun.  Well, I should clarify: Jack had a ball and couldn't wait to get his picture taken with each of the characters that were there.  Charlie on the other hand was scared to death of them all and quivered anytime any of them came near.  His buddy Clara was the same way; it was rather entertaining.

Clara's "get him away from me" face

Charlie's "get him away from me" face

Jack and his buddy Owen
 We also got another great picture with Santa.

We had a great time!  Hopefully we can go again next year too!

We had our annual cookie decorating party at the Mitchells' house this year.  The kids loved it.


Leah - haha!!




A bonus Leah picture after she dumped out an entire bottle of sprinkles - oops!

Graham & Caroline

All the kids (minus the 2 babies), posed so nicely.. Charlie, Jack, Paige, Reese, Will, Leah, Evan, Graham and Caroline
For fun, here's a picture of some of the kids at our 2012 cookie decorating party...Ben & Kaitlyn (not at 2014 party), Evan, Caroline, Graham, Jack, Charlie and Braden (not at 2014 party)
Jack and Charlie's classes each had a winter party.  Jason and I were lucky and were both able to make it to both parties...

 This was one of the highlights...Jack's class made a book of their favorite recipes for all the parents.  Jason (who makes mac & cheese from scratch) cringed when we saw Jack's recipe for mac & cheese.  He made sure to tell Jack's teachers this is Grandma's recipe, not his.  We had a good laugh...
We also made gingerbread houses one night...

It was a busy month but we did a lot of fun things and made lots of memories!