Saturday, December 3, 2016

And so it begins...

I realized yesterday that I never got back around to talking about our Thanksgiving weekend.  I guess it's been that kind of week.  The Christmas season is upon us and for the next three weeks there will not be a dull moment.

So, anyway, last Wednesday when we got to my parents' house, we dropped off the boys and went right to a bar in Buffalo to celebrate the life of Craig's Uncle Mike who died two years ago that week.  It was nice to see some of his extended family and have a night out for a change.  It's also been a while since I watched a Buffalo sports team in a Buffalo bar!  When we got back to the house (right around bedtime), I was greeted by another box of "attic treasures" from my parents' attic, including my other two Wish World Kids, to go with the one I brought home a year ago.  They're tiny little dolls with furniture that transformed into fun little workplaces--a TV into a game show set, a dresser into a salon, and a refrigerator into a sweet shoppe.  There was also a Fisher-Price musical instrument maker that has joined the ranks of Carter's toys.  It's always fun to reminisce!


Thanksgiving was nice.  We survived church (barely) and then enjoyed a relatively pleasant lunch at my parents' house, along with my Uncle Ron.  The boys were pretty well behaved and we had some great conversations.  After a little clean-up we were on the road to see Craig's family.  Dinner was a little rougher this time around, as Carter got in a mood and refused to say anything he was thankful for.  He also pretty much refused to eat at the table, and when he went to lay down, I caught him stuffing his face with chips, crackers, and cheese.  Arg.  But Jacob's thankful speech was nice, though I think hearing his cousins probably encouraged him to up his game a bit! 

We were all pretty stuffed, though of course we all made room for dessert!  The kids kept themselves occupied, and I thought it was cute that Carter's big cousin made him this little car setup, complete with gear shifter, pedals, and a steering wheel.  He was having a blast!
 
The next day we went to our oldest nephew's hockey game.  It was at RiverWorks, which is just on the edge of downtown Buffalo.  We'd never been there, but were really impressed.  It was a huge indoor facility with space for performances, boxing matches, and roller derby, flanked by a restaurant.  The kids actually spent most of the game inside playing bubble hockey.  Back outside under the cover, we watched the game in slightly chilly (but tolerable) weather.
The view from above was pretty.  I think that's the Buffalo River in the background.

Right next door is a six-pack of grain elevators decorated like Labatt Blue cans.  Only in Buffalo!



Downtown Buffalo is in the background, though in this shot it's only easy to see the tallest building in Buffalo.  Too bad it's empty right now :(
Carter just fit under the ledge on the viewing platform, and he liked his vantage point.
 
After the game we had Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch and got back on the road.  I was eager to start some Christmas decorating before the weekend really got going.  I also ended up making a crustless crumb-top apple pie (gluten-free adaptation of my mom's recipe), and that was a nice dessert to look forward to all week.  
 
That first day I got the Thanksgiving/fall decorations down and the tree up, but without ornaments.  I pulled up bins and started some decorating, but I rapidly realized I had some issues I wanted to fix.  As a result, I only got so far along.  I try very hard to not buy new Christmas decorations as we have plenty.  But a couple years ago Craig won a wooden reindeer decoration with two candles in a raffle, and it was super tacky (but one of the best things left when he got to pick).  It said on the front, "On Dasher, on Dancer, on MasterCard and Visa!"  After thinking about it for a while, a couple months ago I finally fixed it.  I painted over the message with brown paint, doing my best to leave the darker edges.  I finished it with a quick spray of gold spray paint that just left some flecks.  It turned out really well.  However, it had some rather ugly brownish-green and white striped candles that clashed with the brown, so I bought two dollar store off-white flameless pillar candles to replace them.  I was pleased with that upgrade, for sure. 
 
My other problem was my narrow mantel.  Every year I want to put pine garland up behind whatever I put on the mantel with our stocking holders.  The problem is that the mantel is narrow and trying to get the garland and the other stuff up there without breaking anything was a challenge.  The garland was wired and a bit unruly and I've had a lot of close calls where it moved and almost knocked something breakable off the other end.  It drove me nuts.  So this year I put up that garland in the kitchen above the window where the last owners left nails, and went on a search for softer or skinnier unwired garland.  It took a couple tries, but I finally found some that is made like tinsel garland but looks like pine needles.  It also had a little silver tinsel in it, which I loved even more!  And I also got a string of battery operated red LED lights to wrap around it, and now my mantel is safer and just how I wanted it.  Oh, and I also had to do some glue gun repairs that I've put off a couple years to my grandma's wooden nativity scene and the wreath on my door that I put together many years ago.
 
So between all of these issues, it was taking a while to get the decorations up.  In the meantime, Carter took advantage of the bin space and made himself a little fort!
He brought in his pillow pet, blankets, and books, all on his own!
Eventually I got through the decorations, and then I finally got back around to the tree.  It took a couple days to get the ornaments on the tree, and I finally moved those bins downstairs yesterday.  I finally remembered to put the Stickees up on the windows this morning.  In case you're unaware, Stickees are holiday-themed window clings.  They have been around my family since I was about 12-13 years old, when my school did a fundraiser and my family bought them up.  I have a few hand-me-downs from my mom and grandmas, so I have a spring flowers/Easter set, fall leaves, jack o'lanterns, ornaments, and a set of Christmas shapes (Santa, a tree, sleigh) and a ton of snowflakes.  I always put up the ornaments, but some years I'm less motivated to do the rest of the Christmas stuff.  This year I did a full display and it felt good to finally finish up the decorating today. 

Now if I could just get around to that shopping...

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