Saturday, December 10, 2011

Your Last Chance to See the Best Christmas Display in Denver!

For the second year in a row, we've gotten in the car on a cold December night, driven to Starbucks to pick up a round of hot chocolates, and have gone driving to look at Christmas lights. I think this will have to be an annual family tradition. 
{Unfortunately, my Nikon battery died right as we got in the car so you'll have to deal with cell phone pictures. I was SO bummed!}

The most amazing house in the Denver area is located near Broadway & Belleview (going south on Broadway, turn right on Belleview, and the right on Elati). I remember driving past this house when I was younger, with MY parents. These people go far above and beyond the normal Christmas light display.

Sadly, this year we saw this sign at the display:

 You can click to enlarge it, but it reads: "The Kloewer Family wishes to thank you for the past 29 years of patronage. This year will mark the final celebration of our light display. Happy Holidays - Dick and Alice Kloewer"

This is sad for us because it's our favorite light display to see! People come from far and wide to see this house at Christmastime. While we were there for maybe 20 minutes last night, there were TWO LIMOS, one bus, and tons of cars crowding the street. It's always busy & popular here in December at night. But it's such a lovely display, it's worth seeing. Trust me, it's the most creative you'll ever see. 

If you're in the Denver area, make sure to visit this year! It will be your last chance! Mr. Kloewer must be some sort of engineer because the displays feature all sorts of trains and animated dolls and puppets:

The Rudolph's nose lights up when you push the button. This was a new feature (or at least we haven't seen it before) this year. 3-year-olds LOVE buttons...
 This is NOT a light display that you can just admire from your car. You must get out and walk around the entire yard to really appreciate all the little details. 
There are lit up display houses all over the yard, this one featured dancing puppets:
 The best part of this outing is spending time with the family for the holidays...

And seeing your child's eyes light up is better than any other light display in the world...
 Although I have to warn you, if you do go, bundle up well. Violet enjoyed being in daddy's coat.
 The trains are amazing! I'd bet they have almost a half mile of train tracks winding around their yard. Cute little trolleys and trucks zip around them constantly.
 Eisley was in heaven, despite how cold it was. 

This may be the Kloewer's last year, but don't fret too much. 
It would seem their neighbors down the street are planning on taking over the legend {POST EDIT: It turns out that, according to a Westword article on the Kloewers, this is their SON who lives down the street. Cool!}:
And if you're in this neighborhood, you might as well take a quick jog over to Downtown Littleton to see their hundred or so trees lit up...
 At the end of the drive is the Melting Pot tree, the most light-covered tree you'll ever see:
Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Violet's Rash

A few days ago Violet finally cut her two bottom front teeth. 
I say finally because they usually come in around 6 months, and here she is 9 1/2, but fine by us--although it is a gruelling thing to go through for us. Our kids don't teeth well...

So when she stopped sleeping through the night, wasn't eating as much, and had a fever, we weren't really worried. It comes with the territory when baby is teething, we thought. {Although we were pretty whiny about her getting up in the night, seeing as we've been totally spoiled by here sleeping through the night since birth.}

If you Google or look up teething in your baby handbook, you'll find that the "Does teething really cause fevers?" debate is a heated one between moms & doctors. 

Moms swear teething causes a low-grade fever. Doctors insist it doesn't, and that fevers only accompany teething when something else is also going on...

Two days ago I was ranting to Justin about how doctors think they knew better than moms! Violet had a fever for two days, ranging from 99 to 102 degrees, and she just happened to be cutting her first teeth at the same time. "Yeah right, doctors think they know everything, they don't," I said.

Turns out I'm going to have to eat my crow pie on this one. 
Doctors 1. Mom 0.

A few hours ago I put Viv down to change her diaper, and upon unbuttoning her outfit I saw this:

Wait, cameras don't catch rashes well, so don't freak out, but here is an edited version with contrast added:

 A splotchy, slightly raised rash covered her tummy and back, from neck line to groin. Being the alarmist that I am {don't judge, Paul Revere was one, too, after all} I texted Justin to let him know and immediately called her pediatrician. 

They must not worry as much about rashes as moms do, because it took the nurse 45 minutes to call me back.
Doctors 2. Mom 0. 
All the while I let my mind run scenarios in my head of Violet being hospitalized and treated for measles, or German measles, or some strange mystery disease, or brain tumors that somehow cause rashes on the abdomen.

My kids rarely get sick. In fact, this is Little Red's first time, ever
Eisley has been sick 3 times that I can remember. It's a good thing, too, seeing as I hate seeing my children sick. Who doesn't? I pray for their health constantly. 

Now I can see it wasn't just teething. The fever, the fussiness, the lack of appetite--it all seemed to be teething symptoms at first, but now we know otherwise. 

When the nurse finally called back she told me what I had already begun to suspect {thanks to Google and What to Expect the First Year} seeing as her symptoms fit this diagnosis perfectly:
Herpes caused this. 

Not that kind of herpes. 

Little Red has roseola infantum
Also known as sixth disease, baby measles, or 3-day-fever.
NOT the STD. Just a common virus from the herpes family. 
It just looks a lot worse than it is. 
Now that the fever has already run it's course, there's really no need for concern, the rash is superficial and will be gone within a couple days.

It's contagious, but usually only to other babies and toddlers so the rest of us should be fine. I had never even heard of roseola before. 

A few hours ago I was imagining the worst, but now I am grateful for a false alarm. Alarmist I may be, but some mothers live every day watching their children suffer horrible diseases. I am all too aware of this, I tend to be drawn to stories of sick children when I hear of them. You could almost say they fascinate me, in a weird way. Something about it touches me deeply, and I have a strong, natural urge to ameliorate them & their mother's suffering. At the same time it gives me a humble cause for joy and gratitude in my own life. 

I would love it if you all would send a prayer up today in thanksgiving for Violet's health, and hopefully that of your own children. If you do, please also take a moment to lift up Kate McRae in prayer. As you might already know, this is one strikingly beautiful little girl who's story I've been following on Caring Bridge for a while. Her mother blogs here, shares her amazing faith despite what her family is facing, and the heart wrenching updates about her daughter's battle with brain tumors. {Though her recent MRI was good, praise God!} 

I was going to show you the stockings I made for the girls today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Two Short Stories

I have two short stories for you tonight.

I had really just been trying to capture some of Violet's cute toddling, but I ended up catching one of Eisley's rants instead. Despite how it looks, we really do discipline in our house, I promise. 

And a few minutes later, this transpired:

Really, I was just glad that this wasn't another one of her Sharpie rampages.

P.S. I hate my own voice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Violet's First Christmas Gift

{Dear Violet}

Today someone gave you your very first Christmas gift. 
A stranger, no less, was the giver. 

I took you girls to Barnes & Noble so that you could toddle around while I sipped coffee, and the sweetest old lady named Jean started chatting with you.

She was impressed that you are walking so well at only 9 months old. {Aren't we all? You pretty much ran into my arms tonite when I was making dinner.} You smiled up at her and cuddled the Eeyore plush doll you'd grabbed from the shelf. It was $15. 

I had mulled over the thought of buying it for you, but decided that $15 on a stuffed animal wasn't really in our budget right now. But once Jean saw you smiling and cuddling the Eeyore, dragging it around the kids book section for a good 15 minutes, she then insisted on buying it for you. 

I tried to talk her out of it. 
Really, I did.
But Jean insisted, and so you got to take your new blue friend home with you. 

It makes me happy to think about people like Jean, who give without hesitation and even to stranger's children and grandchildren, as if you were one of her own and she had decided to spoil you today.

What a lovely start to our Christmas season, no?

You know what else is a great start to our Christmas season???
The killer grilled cheese sandwiches I made tonite for dinner. 
So unhealthy, two buttered pieces of white bread with gooey melted cheese in between. But who doesn't love a grilled cheese now and then?

You sure did. Nom nom nom...
Especially served alongside a bowl of Trader Joe's Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup. Yum. 

If there's one thing you adore, Viv, it's food.
And your new Eeyore. 

Remember to give graciously and with abandon, 
like our friend Jean. 
I don't know how else to thank her other than to keep her in my prayers. 

Don't underestimate the joy that spreads from giving. 

{Love, Mommy}

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Perfect Thanksgiving - 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 went off without a hitch for us, how was yours?
In fact, I'd say we had the *perfect* Norman Rockwell style Thanksgiving. What American family doesn't dream of that, right?

Since other family was out of town, it ended up just being my side of the family this year. So we invited them over to our little home, which I've already begun to decorate for Christmas {got a problem with that??}
 For Christmas, I always want to throw twinkly lights all over my house. I usually have to settle on just a few strings, however, or the mister starts to complain about our electric bill...
 I used to be a real-tree-only purist. These days, worrying about little ones, fires, and having to clean up too many pine needles--we just do the fake tree thing. We scored this one after last Christmas at Walmart for $20! We've been waiting all year, literally, to use it.
 I'm a total sucker for Christmas decor, I'd put it up in July if you all wouldn't judge me...
 When our pastor & his wife moved to England a couple months ago they gave us a lot of Christmas things to sell for them at our yard sale. But I couldn't let these cute little vintage figures go so I bought them myself...
 Eisley was super excited for her cousins to come play! She talked about it all morning...
 I decided to keep my great-grandmother's Johnson Brothers china stored this year and instead went for a kitschy look with the vintage Corelle dishes I've been thrifting all year. The patterns I collect match the vintage Pyrex I own, and when I see them in good condition at Goodwill I always buy them--they're only 49 cents a dish, can't beat that.
 Since we had to move out our fake fireplace for the Christmas tree, I moved my rag-tied lights garland over the window. I think I prefer it here.
Violet's 1st Thanksgiving. Eisley's 4th!
 With the house all ready & the food prepared, it was time to wait for family to show up...
 Eisley was so excited to see her grandmas & papa. Violet was a little freaked out...
 But she warmed up quickly.

Cocktail time! I have the BEST cocktail to share with you:
 Spiced Apple Cider Cocktail!
1/2 a gallon of apple cider
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup cinnamon schnapps
1/2 lemon, squeezed

Combine all ingredients into pitcher and serve over ice with skewers speared through Granny Smith apple pieces. SO delicious!
 Here's the best part of having a professional brewer for a brother-in-law, he always brings plenty of beer to share. Noah brews at Oskar Blues Brewery. For Thanksliving he brought 3 growlers of his very own Pumpkin Old Chub {or, "Old Chumpkin" as we called it.} It was delicious!
Appetizer's table, a must. Left to right there was: baked brie, buffalo chicken dip & chips,  Port Wine cheese snowman, cream cheese & pepper jelly dip, bacon wrapped smokies {I have another name for these, but I can't say it here...ask me sometime}, monkey bread, and finally--yes, those are Little Debbie snacks :-)

I know, this is silly, but fun for the kids, cheap, and they make cute easy petite fours, right?
 This little guy is cute! Too cute, I think, no one wanted to eat him.
 Ayla also brought a plate of Play-Doh cookies to share. She said to her parents, "We can't show up without bringing something!"

Justin & I went crazy this year and instead of cooking a turkey, we decided on a sir loin roast instead. I know! But the Tuttles & us just didn't feel like a classic turkey dinner this year...

For fun this year we decided to try and re-create Norman Rockwell's famous Thanksgiving painting. So in-between appetizers/cocktails and dinner, we had a photoshoot. 
The picture turned out okay, but it wasn't perfect, so later that night I decided to Photoshop...
Now we can always remember REALLY having the perfect Thanksgiving.

And yes. I dressed the baby up as a turkey.
She was the most difficult, being the star and all...

She was happy when it was finally time to eat, however.
We had mom's mashed potatoes...
 Apple Velveeta Casserole {my sister brought this, before you judge it by the obscene amount of Velveeta in it, believe me when I say this dish is YUMMY!}
 Mom's famous corn casserole. Best ever! Justin requests this every year...
 A new recipe, balsamic roasted carrots & parsnips. It was good!
 Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing.
I didn't get a picture of the roast {darn!} but it was PERFECT and served with this, Whipped Horseradish Sauce:
It's a tight squeeze in our tiny dining room, but we all fit in and feasted.

 Good food. Good wine.
 Good time.
 After dinner, but before stuffing ourselves any further with dessert, we played a rousing game of Catch Phrase. That's a great game to get everyone laughing, for sure.
 Last but not least, and although no one was hungry or up for more food, we all had some dessert. I made a marble pumpkin cheesecake and pecan pie. Great recipes, they turned out amazing! With homemake whipped cream they were divine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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