We had the best Christmas break with these two little people - I almost loved it as much as Christmas itself. We stayed in our pajamas, sometimes until it was bedtime again, and spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace playing with all our new toys. We slept in, ate pancakes for breakfast three days in a row, cozied up inside during a day-long snowstorm with all our new toys, and ending the night on the couch for Inside Out, popcorn, and hot cups of cocoa.
We played doctor one afternoon, Cruz and Mila dragging out nearly every stuffed animal and baby doll we owned, and ending with taking care of each other with shots and icepacks and sweet hugs to follow. We've reached this point where we can all play things together and it's such a joy watching Mila follow Cruz's imagination and begin to explore her own world of play.
We built Duplo zoos and had light saber fights, constructed a treasure chest full of a few of Daddy's favorite things, and hid it under the entryway table for him to find using a treasure map Cruz designed on his own. Thanks to a wonderful gift of Kiwi and Koala Crates from Aunt Gina, we reignited a spark for crafting around the kitchen table, and all four of us spent Sunday afternoon working together on a water color banner that now adds some color to our dining room.
One of my favorite days was when Beau decided to take the day off of work and spend the day with us. We had just received more snow and the forecast was supposed to be low thirties before turning much colder by the end of the week. Mom came to play with Mila for a few hours in the morning and Beau and I took Cruz to the much-anticipated Star Wars movie in the theater. It did not disappoint! Later that afternoon, we bundled up and found a perfect sledding hill next to the UNI-Dome, thanks to a few suggestions from friends. We had the hill to ourselves, and all four of us enjoyed zooming down the slope, sometimes on our own, and sometimes racing down together. Even Mila refused to be left out of the fun and in perfect sledding fashion, squealed "Weeeee" as we barreled down. And when she wasn't on the sled, she was staying hydrated! We stayed until our cheeks were rosy and our noses were runny and called it a day when the taste of hot cocoa made our mouths water.
After changing into dry clothes, we packed into the car for an impromptu dinner at Maid-Rite. We were the only ones in the entire restaurant and had the place to ourselves as we listened to the Temptations and shared chocolate shakes and onion rings. Afterwards, we once again settled in for a movie night, this time The Minion Movie, all piled up in our big bed. It was a day just for them and I loved every second of it.
After a whirlwind semester and a lot of commitments in December, our desires for a crazy and action-packed New Year's Eve were not in the cards this year. Instead, we continued more of the same theme, this time ending up on lane 18 at Cadillac Lanes for some NYE Galaxy Bowling. The kids were more into the whole thing than we even expected, and we were able to bowl two whole games before Mila lost interest and started exploring the bar and arcade. She was hilarious with a bowling ball, only wanting to touch a pink one and a purple one much too heavy for her. It took her a few rounds to understand the whole taking turns part of it, but when it was her turn, she'd grab her ball and march right up to the dragon ramp, give her a push, and immediately celebrate by jumping up and down and yelling, paying absolutely no attention to the number of pins she knocked down. When it was Cruz's turn, she'd watch and celebrate the same way, adding a hug in for him that would make him blush.
After bowling, we took the kids to Sakura for some hibachi. We sat by an older couple who fawned over our children and said they made their entire night, which relieved Beau and I as we weren't too sure what couples would think about seeing kids at their table on New Year's Eve. The place was packed with couples and families of all ages, and the onion tower and egg roll and big hibachi fire didn't disappoint.
After supper, we kept the festivities alive awhile longer with a little bubbly, one too many noise makers, and a makeshift Penguins of Madagascar countdown in our pajamas. We toasted to 2016, and tucked the kiddos in bed, settling down for a little football and a little Carson Daly.
Our start to 2016 was just what I needed. We had a day to put Christmas away, reset the house to its original form, and watch Iowa in the Rose Bowl with a charcuterie board in front of the TV. We cleaned the entire basement, creating quite the space for the kids to roam as these winter months grow long. We put together their new riding toys from Santa, made a hopscotch game on the concrete floor, and have played many don't-let-the-balloon-touch-the-floor games at night. We cooked, we played, we organized, and we relaxed. Saw some family, spent some time with friends, but mostly invested in a lot of time of just us. And as I head back to classes this week, this break will be the fuel that will keep me plugging through this semester, reminding me that these simple moments and experiences are always accessible and always available to create, no matter the month or time of year.