Phew, this was a whirlwind of a season…..  we have been enjoying every moment and are now getting back into the rhythm of our “routine”. 

The season starts on Thanksgiving.  We have spent the last few Thanksgiving dinners at our good friends house in their arbor out in their vineyard doesn’t get better than that 😉  It includes, good friends, lots of kids running around, good conversation, good food and beautiful fall weather and sun.

After a day of good food we went for our post Thanksgiving hike.  We headed out on a new trail that lead us to an ancient Redwood that looked like there should be dinosaurs walking around it – it was magnificent!  Then we headed up to this reservoir for some good old fashion echo calls – the kids got a big kick out of that – not sure all the animals around the area were thrilled but hopefully it scared off the mountain lions!

The next day was spent trudging around Moon Mountain for the perfect tree!  We always like to get the tree and the holidays kicked off early, it really gets everyone in the mood.  It was a great day spent looking for our tree.  Of course, Mama likes to walk around the mountain looking carefully at every tree while the kiddos run through the trees squealing with delight and Milo and Doug saunter along waiting for the call of “WE FOUND IT”!  For some reason it always ends up being one of the first trees we were eyeing.  I enjoy cruising around enjoying the sights and the smells, I don’t really think I’m looking for the “perfect” tree, I think they are all great, I just enjoy the time spent out there with the family – so I will keep taking “forever” to find our “perfect” tree 😉

Next comes the decorating….

Then began the baking.  Oh the baking, cookies, breads, more breads, more cookies, fudge.  I have found two lovely recipes at rhythm of the Home that I have added to my holiday arsenal – so delicious – orange, cranberry walnut bread and cranberry ginger bread and so easy.  The kids had so much fun making all the goodies to be passed out for our friends.  Baking and singing was the theme throughout our house during December – good times 🙂

The first weekend in December marked the first Christmas recital for Ryder and what was supposed to be Saige’s second recital, but…… a little bug took Saige down for the day/night (luckily she was back in the game the next day – of course) but Ryder made his debut in a hip hop routine and rocked the house 😉  He was a bit nervous but as soon as he got up on stage with his buddies he was a natural and then he came running off the stage after the performance just flying on adrenal and saying “that was too short, I want to go back and do it again!”  It was priceless.  Very proud of my little elf, but sad my little mouse missed her performance – oh well there’s always next year.

The next adventure was the Santa Skunk Train in Mendocino.  We usually go on The Polar Express but that was sold out way too quick – which I am now glad for – because the Skunk Train rocked!

That’s one groovy looking Santa Train 😉  We made a weekend out of it with another family and had such a great time.  We stayed on a bluff with access to the beach – which we enjoyed making our version of snow angels!

Then we made it to Glass Beach – I have been dying to go there.  There is polished glass all over the beach.  We had lots of fun collecting and trying to find unusual colors (only found blue and red in really tiny pieces).  We all wondered what caused all of this glass to wash up on this little cove – much to our dismay, this area was an old dump – yes, we were frolicking on an old dump!  UGH!  It was still gorgeous, maybe the years of crashing waves has washed this area clean (and unfortunately dragged it all out for the rest of the world to enjoy!)  Seriously who would build a dump on the oceans edge!

polished glass

great tide pools to play in, lots of urchins, a few crabs, some fish hiding and lots of anemones – which all equals lots of fun and exploring 🙂

The annual lighting of the snowmen happened Friday after Thanksgiving – which turned out to be a volatile stormy day and night.  We were all ready to go but right as we were getting ready to put on our coats the sky unleashed its fury and we decided to sit this year out.  So instead we visited the snowmen on a different occasion. 

The deal with these snowmen is…. every year Cornerstone sets up these vintage snowmen (lots of them) and then lights them to start the holiday season.  They have marshmallow roasting, frosty and rudolph played on a wall of one of the buildings with hay bales set up for seating, hot chocolate, etc.  Everyone who has kids in Sonoma comes.  It’s a great time – too bad for the weather.  I just love these snowmen – I would love one for our yard.

This little guy showed up at our house the first week in December.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Elf on The Shelf?  Well I heard about this a few years back, we had elves that looked just like him when I was growing up (they weren’t elf on the shelf) but my mom always had them hanging out on the banister heading upstairs and I simply LOVED them!  It was my favorite thing to get them out and line them up.  I would pretend they were alive and I would talk to them.  Well fast forward to somewhere around 2008 and here is a modern day version of what I used to pretend.  So the story goes, the elf arrives, he is named by the kids, they can not touch him/her, they can tell him/her all their wishes, he/she reports to Santa every night whether the kids were good or bad and then he/she flies back to the kids home and is in a different spot every morning.  So the fun part is when they wake up the first thing they do is look for the elf.  Ours is named Nutcracker Boy 😉  Let’s just say Mama had a couple close calls, a few mornings I heard Ryder’s voice and I bolted out of bed, ran to Nutcracker boy and replaced him (once he got thrown across the room into the christmas tree!)  Ugh!  That got me a few times throughout the month.  Ryder swears he saw his head move 🙂  On Christmas eve the elf flies back home to live in the North Pole until next season.  He usually arrives sometime around Thanksgiving. 

We had so much fun with this tradition this year.  We even wrote our letters to Santa and gave them to Nutcracker boy to bring with him one evening 🙂

In between all this craziness I still remembered to enjoy the beauty of the season

And I think it was a little too much excitement for these two 🙂

 

New Years came in quietly – thank goodness 🙂

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season.  Would love to hear how you spent your season.

Peace and Blessings to you in 2011 – hope to see you all back here

 

So this pretty much sums up the month of December…. frenzied, funny and a lot of fun!  And I can’t believe it’s over!  We started preparing the weekend of Thanksgiving and haven’t stopped until yesterday.  It has been a whirlwind but a season filled with lots of singing, present making, cookie making, cooking, story telling, snuggling, and remembering my childhood.  Every year I get that warm fuzzy feeling, but for some reason this year seemed like I was really warmed to the soul.  Maybe it’s because Ryder is even more aware and into it and he loves singing with me and making cookies and reading all my favorite Christmas stories and seasonal books.  And Saige is older now and we have our newest addition, Milo – but whatever it was – my heart seemed to melt a little more each day.  And I tried hard to take those mental snapshots as to not forget a moment. 

Usually every year we head back to Chicago sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year we didn’t get that chance.  And part of our tradition in Chicago is to eat lunch under the ginormous tree at Macy’s and see Santa and look at all the windows decorated on Michigan Ave (mind you, it’s usually in the teens and below zero with the windchill).  But that adds to the whole experience. 

So this year we headed to San Fran to start our own tradition.  We took Ryder ice skating at Union Square and went to see Santa and look in the windows at Macy’s.  Now, this was supposed to be the “coldest” day – the meteorologists had us thinking people were going to be dying in the streets because of the cold.  Well I was a bit excited because now it would be even MORE like being in Chicago.  Well as you can see by the picture- it was beautiful.  A little nip in the air but sunny and perfect (people from the Midwest or the East Coast would have been in shorts and tshirts!)  We went to Macy’s, after skating, to see Santa (1 1/2 hour wait!) now I know what my parents went through all those years.  Well we didn’t stay- someone told us about another Santa at the shopping plaza a couple blocks away.  So Ryder was stoked to see Santa- Saige, not so much.

 

 My jams and jellies that I worked on during the summer were wrapped up and given away to friends around town.  We made some homemade Kahlua to give out too.  And I had a couple custom orders for shirts.  Somehow it was suddenly the week of Christmas – what happend. 

The excitement was mounting in our house and then the grandparents arrived the day before Christmas Eve- which got the kids even more wound up!    We all had a wonderful time.  I just love sitting around all day in jammies, playing with their new treasures, reading new stories that will soon become favorites, snuggling, eating cookies and drinking my warm coffee (it should be tea- but I’ve recently went back on caffine- Saige is only nursing once or twice a day so I don’t feel so bad).  And then the next couple days were spent going to the park and running into friends – boy do I love a small town.

So here we are on New Year’s Eve…. looking back on the year and looking forward to what’s to come.  We have  had a great year, we’ve watched our baby turn into a little girl, our little boy become a big independent boy, we’ve welcomed a new family member to our household, we’ve welcomed some new babies into our extended family, we’ve expanded our family of friends, so many blessings – too many to list.  There have also been some sadness (may the circle be unbroken).  I look forward to the new year and the new adventures we will be embarking on and what will be around the next corner.

I have many ideas for this blog in the New Year.  I am resolving to attend to it more, but also to not let it consume me.  I would like to get more information out to families re: cloth diapering, baby wearing, raising kids green, crafting with kids, and more.  I will be doing giveaways and continue giving you the blow by blows on The Adventures in The Calhoun’s Life.  So stay tuned…..

Peace to you and your family in The New Year!

Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, mind and soul have been freed to fulfil themselves. Nelson Mandela