Sunday, December 25, 2016


On Christmas Eve, the boys got to open their Christmas Eve boxes. They had new PJs, cocoa mugs, and a couple of fun things -a snowglobe and light-up nose. I like the idea of a box, instead of just PJs, because they don't get to open any presents. So I won't put real toys in them each year, probably books or ornaments or something. Anyway, the boys were wicked excited, and loved wearing their little noses over the next couple of days.

Christmas morning we went to church, then the boys got to open presents (Mom and Dad, too). They opened them one at a time, or one each, so we could all see what everyone got. I like that way better than everyone just doing their own thing! We had a scavenger hunt for their last present, their kindles. Cormac loved running around following their clues, though Russell didn't seem to get it until the end. We were worried they'd just play on their kindles all day, so we saved them for last, but they actually only played with them for a few minutes, then wanted to get back to their toys. That was fun to see!

After a while, Scott went out to shovel the driveway, and the boys went with him to help. They were productive for a little while, but of course they just ran around eventually. We'd only had one snowstorm with enough to play in, so they were pretty excited to see a few inches out there!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

12 Days of Christmas Activities

Last year, I did an activity advent countdown for the boys. It was kind of a lot of work, so this year I just did the 12 days of activities. It was a lot of fun, slightly less stress, and it really helped Russell understand how much longer until Christmas (as soon as the tree was up, he asked me EVERY day if it was Christmas yet, but once we started the 12 days, he seemed to get the countdown idea).

The first day of Christmas, the boys and I made a fort and read some new Christmas books by the fire. They had a lot of fun destroying the fort afterward, and rebuilding it, over and over.

The second day of Christmas, we made snowmen. It was a felt craft kit I picked up at the store, and after it dried I put them up on the wall. They pointed to them often over the next few days, and talked about how fun it was to make them.

On the third day of Christmas, we pretended we were in France. We ate a nice Christmas dinner, slightly Americanized, and more kid-friendly than escargots! Pour l'apertif et hors d'oeuvres, nous avons mange des croissants et nous avons bu champagne (sparkling cider). Pour  l'entree, nous avons mange de la soupe du jour. Pour le plat principal, nous avons mange du saumon et des haricots verts. Pour le dessert, nous avons mange une buche du Noel. Ok, I probably had a lot of errors, since I haven't taken French for like 10 years, but I gave it a shot! Anyway, after dinner, we put the boys shoes out for Pere Noel. In the morning, they ran out of their room, saying, "Let's see if Pere Noel came!" I was actually surprised they even remembered. Cormac kept saying, "This is awesome! I love Pere Noel!!"  Pretty great.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the boys took a bubble bath with their special Christmas duckies. I purposely hadn't let them have bubbles for a while, or even toys, so this would seem extra fun!

For the fifth day of Christmas, I gave them Christmas parachuters. They had one of these a little while ago, but it didn't work well, so I was hoping these might... they lasted a little longer, and they enjoyed them more, since it was Christmas-themed.

On the sixth day of Christmas, we had a German Christmas. We ate turkey (loaf), potato pancakes with applesauce, and drank mulled wine (sparking grape juice). We had shortbread cookies for dessert, as well as apple strudel (Little Debbie style). The boys wrote letters to Christkind, and with their answers, they got Christmas trees to decorate (since we'd listened to O Tannenbaum the night before). Cormac kept saying, "I like Tannenbaums!"

On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave them a Christmas memory game. Cormac liked it until Russell just started grabbing cards and flipping them. They wanted me to tell them where all the matches were, lol. So, I guess they weren't quite patient enough for that kind of game. But they did like flipping them and looking at the pictures!

For the eighth day of Christmas, I gave the boys giant coloring/activity books. Russell kept saying, "I've never be seeing these big books before!" (Meaning, I've never seen such big books, lol.) I had them color on the floor, since they were so big. They thought that was awesome, too.

On the ninth day of Christmas, we had a Mexican Christmas. We went out to Milagros, our current favorite Mexican place, and had delicious food. Then, we came home to do the pinata! The boys were excited to hit it, but I explained it was a pull-string kind. They really liked pulling the ribbons as hard as they could! I was hoping it worked, since I'd never seen one before, and after only a few pulls, they got the candy to fall out. They scrambled around grabbing it and had a great time.

On the tenth day of Christmas, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. We went to my grandma's house for dinner beforehand, so I forgot to bring our camera. I took a couple of shots with my phone though. And we found the most awesome tree! The boys even got out to walk around it, and just kept staring at all the lights. It was pretty impressive.

For the eleventh day of Christmas, we read the story of Christ's birth, and the boys helped "act" it out with popsicle-stick-puppets. They don't listen very well when we read scriptures, so we read it from a children's book. And Cormac at least could tell us what we had read, so we'll call it a success.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, after we'd opened presents and snacked on yummy food all day, we made gingerbread houses (out of graham crackers). Russell slapped a few pieces of candy on and just wanted to eat the rest. Cormac took his time at first, and did a pretty good job. He wanted to eat the treats, too, though. So we let them give up and have some treats. It was Christmas, after all. Scott and I didn't even feel like eating anything when we finished ours... too much Christmas  :)

Overall, I liked the 12 days of Christmas a little better than the full advent. It was lower stress, and we had more time at the beginning of the month to do unscheduled things, like visit Temple Square and the Seven Peaks North Pole. I think I'll do it again next year, and maybe do the different countries again. The boys really liked that. They even asked if Pere Noel could come again, which was fun. I'll have to find other countries with fun traditions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our Trip to New England

We took a 10-day trip to New England, and really packed in the fun. It was Russell's first flight, and the first that Cormac remembered. We gave them backpacks full of fun stuff and snacks, and they both did awesome.

We went to Vermont first. We had an awesome breakfast at a place I used to go to with my family.

 Then we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial. We saw the monument, then walked around the back trail. The boys' favorite part was finding little newts all over, because it had just rained. We also stopped in Sharon just to walk around a bit before leaving.

Next, we went to the Ben and Jerry's factory. The tour was ok. They were cleaning the place, instead of making ice cream, so that was a bummer. But the boys loved eating ice cream and playing at the playground. They liked the Flavor Graveyard a lot, too.

Tuesday we went to Cannon Mountain and rode the tram up. We hiked around and went back down, and discovered a flat tire. Thankfully, my dad was with us, and he'd had his eye on that tire because of a previous issue. He fixed it and we had lunch, then we went to Franconia Notch. This is easily one of the coolest places I've ever been, and I've wanted to go back ever since I went for a school fieldtrip when I was a kid. The boys loved hiking up the boardwalks and seeing the waterfall and everything. It's such a beautiful place!


No pictures, but we also went candlepin bowling after all of this. It's a Billadeau tradition! And it's one thing I really miss. Someone needs to open a candlepin place in Utah! The boys had a great time, and since we let them use the ball ramp, they scored just as high as everyone else  :)  Then we went to one of my parents' favorite restaurants, and had some excellent food. Mmmm, oh how I missed fresh seafood!

Wednesday morning we hiked Mt. Kearsarge. That was our go-to hike growing up, so it was fun to take my little family up there. My dad and my brother Ry came with us. Russell really liked hiking with Ry, and Cormac loved racing ahead with his grandpa. We didn't take a lot of pictures, since Russell needed someone to hold his hand the whole time. The boys both hiked the entire thing though, which was great.

We didn't take our camera with us in the afternoon, but we went to an arcade and then a park. The boys had the arcade to themselves, since it was in the afternoon, mid-week, when kids are in school. They played some games and got enough tickets for a couple of prizes (side note: it's a little sad that arcades are moving to the ticketless system! I guess it's cheaper than printing tickets, to just load them on a card, but it's so fun to have the tickets spill out at the end!!). Anyway, we went to a park in Concord where my family always used to play, and it's even nicer than when I went as a kid. The boys could have run around for hours there, if we'd let them stay longer. It did take three of us (Scott, me, and my mom) to watch them though, since it's a big park. Fun to have them play where I always played though!

Thursday we went to Boston with my mom. We rode the subway in, which was probably Cormac's favorite part. Then we went to the Museum of Science. It had changed a little since I'd been when I was a kid! There was a ton of awesome interactive stuff throughout the entire museum. My favorite part was the musical stairs, probably because that was what I remembered most from when I went... Anyway, not a lot of great pictures, since it was inside and the kids were bouncing around  :)

We made it back in time to have dinner at Ry's place, with his wonderful wife, Jen. They made delicious pizza and the boys loved spending some time with them. They both talked about Ry and Jen for a while after the trip. They asked when they could visit them again, and if they could come to our house (and play with their toys with them). So fun to have my family spend time together!

Friday we went on a Whale Watch. My mom and Ry came. It was great! We saw 5 humpback whales, and 5 dolphins. The boys loved being on a boat, and eating every single snack we packed. Guess the ocean air made them hungry! It was about 4 hours, and Cormac slept a little at the end (possibly due to the dramamine I gave him). It was another thing I hadn't done since I was a kid, so I really loved it, too.  Then we went to an estuary with a discovery center. It had great hands-on stuff for the boys, and it was really pretty out there.

Saturday we drove to Maine to see my brother Brock and his family. We met at a Corn Maze and had a blast. The boys couldn't get enough of the jumping pillow! Then we went to the beach and walked around for a while. It was really pretty, and nice to catch up with family.

Russell's fake sad face

Cormac fell in the water and panicked for a bit... then got over it

The boys loved playing with their cousins. Russell kept asking me what the "little one's" name was, then telling me he liked him (Ash). And Cormac said he wanted Sephi and Mace to come play at our house. When I told him it was pretty far away, he said Brock's family should just live closer  :)

What a great trip! We packed in a lot, so we were pretty beat by the end of it (especially Russell, who missed his nap most days!). But it was all worth it. It was great to spend time with family, and visit New England. There are plenty of things we didn't even have on our to-do list, but you have to save something for next time, right?