Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmastime is here: Lights (good and debacle-like)

One night, we were driving to the store and the boys decided we should make up a song. We each made up a line and the first verse was so fantastic that we had to make up a second verse. This song has become the theme song to our holiday season and we sing it basically every time we're in the car. It's called "Hambly Song of Weirdness," Here it goes:

Go to Darth Vader,
I love Minions' bananas,
I love Minions,
Christmastime is here,
Bele' dat.

I want my ears to be cold,
Quacky quacky loco,
We're singing and driving along,

*the emphasis of this line MUST be placed on the right syllable, or you'll face the intense scrutiny of Reed.

I love how random and hilarious we think we are.

A few of the things we've done so far this Christmas (whilst singing the song), in no particular order:

1. Bellagio Garden
We try to go to the Bellagio every few months so we can see the garden each season. Our favorite time is Christmas time. The centerpiece is always a gigantic REAL Christmas tree! Every year the boys try to tell me the tree is actually fake. And every year I show them the sign that tells that the tree is, in fact real. Mom: 2 Boys: 0. Our favorite part of the garden this year--other than the huge tree--was the penguins! They were so cute, but unlike the tree, were fake.

We also discovered that somehow we've been missing the soaring chocolate fountain at the Bellagio. The fountain is at a cafe that is literally around the corner from the garden and somehow we never knew about the chocolate fountain until this trip! We went to see it and were entranced by its melty chocolatey goodness.

2. Service + Advent
My mom gave us a brand new, beautiful advent for one of our Christmas presents this year. She filled each box with either a treat, a little craft, a gift, or something for us to do! We have loved the advent so far and the kids have not missed a day yet. Reed also got his own Star Wars lego advent for his birthday (also from Grandma) and that advent has been quite popular, as well. Anyway, one day the advent from Grandma had a note that told us to do a secret service for a neighbor. This activity was perfect because we have been trying to have a season of serving. For our secret service, we made Jello popcorn, then had the boys write notes that said, "We love your lights!" We secretly dropped the notes and treats off to two neighbors who have really fun Christmas lights. We actually make extra trips past these neighbors' houses to see their lights, so thought we should share some of the joy they bring us! Both neighbors are located in a tricky spot as far as ding-dong-ditching with children goes, so we just dropped the treat off and didn't knock or anything.

The next day, one of the neighbors brought a treat over to us along with a card thanking us for the treat! I don't know how they knew it was us but how thoughtful of them to bring us something, too. 

We also made a list for our fridge of service we wanted to do. As of today (12/17/15) we've completed everything on the list! Here is how we set out to serve:
1. Thank you note for Sis. Schelin--stake children's choir director
2. Put $1 bills in the toy section of the dollar store--Ryan and the kids did this when they were out shopping for me. They put two in plain sight and hid one!
3. Put quarters on a toy machine--we did this on the giant bouncy ball machine at Old Navy. We were hoping to see someone find one but didn't.
4. Secret service for a family member--we each chose something to do for someone else in our family.
5. Notes for homeless kits/donate clothes--a boy in our ward wants to go give out clothes and food to homeless people on Christmas day. We took the homeless kits the primary kids made at our missionary activity--ziplocs with water bottles, granola bars, and a few treats--and added Christmas notes to the bag. Ryan and I also went through our clothes and pulled out sweaters and gloves to donate.
6. Food for homeless--this one was Asher's idea. He picked out four boxes of crackers at the dollar store (okay, five--but one day we were desperate and ate one), and we've been looking for opportunities to give them out! Last Saturday, we were at a stop light when a woman came walking between the cars with a sign. We gave her a box of crackers and she seemed very happy! This was a really cool one to do.
7. Serve Crystal's family--Crystal and her kids Tristan and Kylee are investigating the church. Crystal and I have been able to develop a friendship and we wanted to serve her somehow. I've been giving Kylee and Tristan rides to activity days and scouts. On the night of our ward Christmas party, Crystal wasn't up to coming because she broke her toe--so we took her kids as part of our family for the night!
8. Invite Sara to play at recess--this was Reed's. I asked him if there was someone at school he could serve. He immediately thought of Sara. He invited her to play the next day at recess and they've been playing together every day since! He also asked if she wanted to sit with him at lunch, but she has to sit at the peanut-free table.

 3. Sam's Town/Neighborhood lights
We thought it would be fun to go see some of the better neighborhood light displays, particularly a house we'd heard of that was only blocks from Ryan's office. We dropped Ryan off the work in the morning, then I made a map of good places to go! We also needed to go to Joann's for my secret project supplies, so Ryan suggested we add a detour and go to Sam's Town. He'd been wanting to check out the Sam's Town lights, but when we realized that Sam's is approximately 45 min-1hr from our house knew we wouldn't make it. We were all quite glad of the detour, because the Sam's Town lights were so cool! They have an indoor garden area with a big waterfall and animatronic animals. During Christmas, they do a Christmas-themed laser light show on the waterfall! The show was a lot of fun. The highlight of the trip, though, may have been the rides up and down the glass-backed elevators. The elevators looked out over the lit garden area and the kids were in heaven as we rode up and down!

After Sam's, we continued our route--in the wrong direction. My bad--I got turned around! The Robindale house was really cool. They had thousands of lights that were synced to music and we all enjoyed it. The next house we got to wasn't even lit at all! Apparently we had an old list. At this point, everyone was melting down and I kind of lost it a little bit, which was not my proudest moment. We were just going to go home, but there was one last house really close to ours we decided to stop at. The last house actually redeemed the trip a bit because it was the most amazing of all. Their lights included big LED screens that had images dancing that coordinated with the songs! Poor Ashie slept through the whole thing, even though we tried to wake him up!

A few days later, I had to stop at scouts, so we left home early, found some pretty lights in neighborhoods around us, then went to the cool house after scouts so Ashie could see it. After this mini trip, we went home to enjoy snickerdoodles and hot cocoa with homemade whipped cream! Our mini trip was so much happier and better than the big trip. Lesson learned: don't plan a lot of driving between the lights, because everyone just gets tired and grumpy!

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