Monthly Archives: December 2009

New Hockey Gear

We took Jack skating for the first time the other night with his new gear.  Wow, it is going to take me a while to get used to putting everything on and how to adjust it all.  Santa got the wrong size pants, so we have to return them for the youth small.  In the meantime, Jack can wear the shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee/shin guards and gloves.  Everything else fits well but should fit for a while.  We tried to teach him how to drop his gloves like the hockey players, but he didn’t want to throw his new gloves down.  At least we know he wants to take good care of his gear!  On Monday he starts Snow Plow Sam II.  He’ll have a different teacher this time, will go on Monday afternoons instead of Saturday mornings and will likely start with just 6 kids in his class.  I think we are all excited to see what this session of lessons will bring as far as new skills goes. 

We’ve been searching for small skates for G.  He wants to be on the ice so badly.  Unfortunately, poor Garrett has small feet and the smallest skates we’ve been able to find are size 6 which probably fits more like a size 7 in shoes.  G wears a size 4 shoe, maybe a 5 in brands that run small.  At the rate he’s growing, he’ll be 4 before his feet are fitting in skates!  For now he just practices whatever Jack is doing on the ice while he watches him skate by.  Pretty sweet!

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The BEST kids gift!

Jack and Garrett each received one gift that I just have to give a Mommy review of, a kids Vtech Kidizoom Plus Digital Camera.  Both boys are fascinated by our camera and Jack has recently been finding our camera and taking his own pictures.  My parents had gotten my nephew a kids real digital camera a few years back and at the time we thought it was a great gift.  Then Trav saw some Crayola cameras at Costco and gave them to his parents as an idea for the boys.  He did a little research and found that the Vtech got the best reviews, so he suggested it to Grandpa & GG.  This camera is AWESOME.  Jack has been playing with it constantly.  It has a great color viewing screen, it is totally easy for kids and parents to operate, it has internal memory plus takes a SD card, the picture quality is pretty decent, it takes video, has the ability to edit the photos on the camera to add funny hats etc to the pictures and then saves it as its own file so it doesn’t replace the original picture and it has educational matching games on it.  The thing is pretty cool!  It is obviously a little old for G, but he is enjoying it too.  He runs around saying cheese and taking pictures, mainly of the ground or the ceiling, but he enjoys it none the less.  They have played with them so much already, that I just had to put a recommendation on my blog.  This is a perfect gift for any budding photographers in your life!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  We hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours.  We had a very busy Christmas Eve and a very relaxing Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve was a bit of a whirlwind.  For years we have spent Christmas Eve with our friend Jim.  Over the years we have had a variety of dinner menus and occasionally a houseful of family and friends, but Jim is our one constant.  Last year I was so worn out with our non-sleeping baby G, that I made Indonesian Beef Stew on Christmas Eve and we went out for Chinese on Christmas Day.  This year I decided that I dearly missed a good turkey dinner and was craving the turkey sandwich leftovers.  Much of my Christmas Eve was spent cooking and quickly cleaning our house.  Travis took the boys shopping for the majority of the day so I could work in peace.  We always go to Christmas Eve services at church.  When it was just the two of us we generally went to a later service, 9pm or later.  Once we had kiddos we started usually going to the 5pm or 7pm service.  This year however, Jack was singing in the 3pm service.  We had to be at church at 2:30pm.  It really cut into our preparation time, but it was great.  Jack sang with about 7 or 8 other 3 and 4 year olds in the Cherub Choir.  His best school & church buddy, Hayes, was there and they were very excited to see each other.  Their choir actually opened the service.  He did well and for the first time ever we kept both boys in the service with us.  They were great!  I volunteered for nursery duty for the 5pm service, so I was committed at the church for several hours.  In between the two services, Travis dropped me and the boys off for some last minute Christmas shopping.  Mama was dropping the ball and hadn’t gotten ANY gifts for Daddy.  I get a little bit of a pass because Travis is 1)EXTREMELY difficult to buy for and 2)his Birthday is December 21st– I get tapped out on the gift front for someone who always just goes and buys what he wants!  The boys and I did a super speedy shop through Marshall’s and actually did really well.  We booked it back to the church and Trav dropped us off so he could run home and check on the turkey.  Jim came over around 7pm while I was finishing all the food up.  We had turkey, homemade GF cornbread stuffing, homemade GF rolls, fresh cranberry relish (if you need an easy and excellent cranberry relish, let me know.  This one is great!), mashed potatoes and green beans with almonds.  I also made a sweet potato for the boys because they don’t like mashed potatoes.  Everything was delicious.  I stuff my turkey with fresh herbs, lemon & orange wedges and onion and then rub it with butter and herbs de provence.  You cook it with chicken stock and more fresh herbs in the bottom of the roaster.  It has the best flavor and stays so moist.  Apparently the drippings make the best gravy, but I’m not a gravy fan.  Our dinner was very good and the boys behaved so well.  The boys were asleep and Jim had gone home by 9:30.  Just in time for Travis and I to clean up the kitchen, turn on A Christmas Story and begin the parental marathon of wrapping and assembling presents.  I made it to bed at 2am, Travis not until 4am.  Geesh, you’d think we’d figure out a way to not stay up all night!

I was sure we’d be awoken at 5am by a very excited 3-year-old.  I was wrong.  Jack woke up about 6:30am and I think he didn’t really even realize that it was Christmas morning.  We had put cookies and milk, gluten-free of course, out for Santa but it still didn’t register for Jack.  When he woke up I told him he had to stay in his bedroom until Brother and Daddy woke up.  He didn’t understand and then finally said “wait Mom, is today the day I get to open my stockin’?”  Once he understood, he was excited but did a great job staying out of the living room.  He helped me make sticky buns and by the time we put them in the oven G was up.  Garrett is NOT a morning person.  He was especially grumpy for Christmas morning.  I think we were out of our normal routine and he pretty much does not perk up until he gets his “eggys” in the morning.  He was scared to death of his stocking because it has Santa on it.  He wanted nothing to do with his new kitchen, his big Santa gift and he basically just nursed through the first 30 minutes of present opening.  Jack was super excited for his stocking and loved his Santa gift, a Caps equipment bag filled with hockey gear, most of which is the authentic CCM Alex Ovechkin gear.  Jack really like G’s kitchen too.  We open presents for hours, not because we have that much stuff, but because our kids do not tear into gifts.  Jack loves to open a present and then figure it all out.  If it is a toy he plays with it, if it is a book then it must be read in its entirety at least once.  I end up trying to keep the whole process moving by giving a few minutes to play and then attempting to take away the gift so he’ll open a new one.  G had no interest in opening gifts.  Sometimes he would bring them to us but if you tried to help him open it he would freak out and run away.  I opened the majority of his gifts.  Towards the end Travis was trying to help him open a present for him and Jack.  It was a play airplane set (like Little People).  G saw that it was an airplane and dug in.  He finally opened a gift and then made Travis get it out immediately.  After that, he at least helped us open presents.  The boys were spoiled rotten as usual and we really enjoyed all their new gifts.

Everyone was pretty exhausted.  G took an early and long nap and Jack took a pretty good one too.  I talked to family on the phone for a while, blogged and Trav got a nap.  I took a short nap late in the afternoon and then we finally decided we should get dressed for the day around 5:30pm.  After our awesome Chinese food last year, we decided going out on Christmas Day is the best plan.  This year we had Hibachi and it was wonderful.  The boys ate so well and there were no restaurant breakdowns.  Garrett discovered soup and more importantly soup spoons.  I think I need to invest in a set of asian soup spoons so he’ll eat soup all the time! All and all it was a perfect Christmas!

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Snow

We came home from Chattanooga to 2 feet of snow.  It was beautiful and honestly I was a little sad we missed the actual snowfall.  We did get to play in it a little and Trav got lots of shoveling done.  The boys were pretty excited about the snow, but their Mama was only partially prepared on the snow gear front.  Both boys have great winter coats with snow pants, so we were set there.  However, neither of them had appropriate snow boots.  Jack’s boots from last year are about 2 sizes too small but he HAD to wear them.  Poor G’s feet are so small we don’t have any boots small enough for him, so he had to wear tennis shoes.  (This isn’t for a lack of a Mama trying to find boots.  We’ve looked everywhere but Jack’s feet are too wide and G’s too small…no success!)  It didn’t slow Jack down one bit.  He loved the snow.  I think the lack of boots made Garrett freeze.  He pretty much hated the snow until Trav and I got the front walk shoveled, then he just stood on the walk and basically fussed.  We got a good hour of snow play in though.  It makes me wish we lived someplace where winter meant snow, not months of rain!

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Chattanooga

We made a quick trip down to Chattanooga, TN this weekend.  As many of you remember, we are pretty big University of Montana fans.  (I’ll admit that I am now a convert and have forsaken my one year at Montana State!)  The Griz once again made an appearance in the 1AA National Football Championship, so we made the trek down to Chattanooga for the game.  Travis hasn’t missed a Championship game yet!

We left Wednesday afternoon and had already reserved a room in Roanoke, VA.  The drive to Roanoke was good.  We got up on Thursday morning and Trav took Jack swimming while G and I got ready.  We hit the road and actually made good time to Chattanooga.  We quickly checked into our hotel (Trav got us a free upgrade to a junior suite that was awesome!) and headed out to Rock City. 

G checkin' out the guns in the gift shop

Every Christmas season Rock City does an Enchanted Garden of Lights.  We had gone years ago with Larry & Dee Dee, long before kids were in our picture.  It was pretty neat and we knew the kids would enjoy it.  When we had gone before we went on a Saturday night and it was packed.  We were literally wall to wall with other people.  This time we went on Thursday night and arrived right before they opened.  It was perfect. There were hardly any people there and we beat the cold.  Basically you walk a path through Rock City where they have decorated with all kinds of lights.  Santa was there and the boys  sat his lap again.  Jack asked for hockey gear and G cried once again.

On Friday morning we got up and went to the Tennessee Aquarium.  We went last year and loved it.  It is the best aquarium I’ve been to in the U.S.  (Trav and I hit the aquarium in Genoa, Italy in 2000 and it was amazing!)  Since we went last year, Jack has talked about the penguins and petting the fish.  Last year he was too scared to pet the fish, but this year he went right for it.  In fact, I had stopped to nurse G and Jack had run ahead of us.  Trav caught up to him within a matter of seconds but he had already jammed his whole arm in the sturgeon pond to pet the fish.  When I caught up to them a few minutes later, Jack was all too happy to show me how he could pet the fish!  Garrett was not so excited about the fish petting.  He thought the water was entirely too cold and frankly his arms are way too short to reach the fish.  Jack once again was completely unimpressed with the butterfly garden.  We love it but he can do without it.  Jack also was able to pet the sting rays and some sort of shark in another petting tank.  The penguins weren’t very interested in us this year.  There are two full buildings at the aquarium.  This year we started in the second building mainly because it was pouring rain and it was the closest to our parking spot.  It worked out well though because we had seen much less of it last year.  We took our time through that building and then sort of breezed through the other building since it was nearing lunch time.  We grabbed a bite to eat and both boys fell asleep on the way back to the hotel.  I took advantage and quickly hit all my favorite boutiques.  Chattanooga has some fabulous artsy shopping!

On Friday night we got a babysitter for the boys and Trav and I had tickets to the game.  Our babysitter was fabulous and we were VERY thankful to have her.  Up until Thursday night at 10pm we had no babysitter and were thinking that I may miss the game altogether.  We went to dinner at a specialty hot dog joint and we had a great waitress who looked to be college age.  We decided to ask her if she knew of anyone who might want to babysit for us the next night.  She said she wished she could, but that she had to work.  However, the owner of the restaurant had a 16-year-old daughter who she thought would be perfect.  She told us all about her and then took down our information.  She got a hold of her boss right away but the daughter, Annie, was out.  I finally got a call about 10pm that night from Annie saying that she would love to babysit.  It worked out so well.  Our kids usually do really well with babysitters, but we always get a little concerned about having a new sitter and especially in a hotel.  I was pretty leary when Friday morning Jack announced out of the blue that he planned to give Ms. Annie “a run for her money tonight”.  The boys hit it off with Annie right.  As we were getting ready to leave, true to Jack form, he looks at her and says “Ms. Annie, do you have milk in your breasts?”  She quickly answered no and Jack informed all that “My Mommy has milk in her breasts!”  Annie took it all in stride and we figured if she made it through that 5 minutes in, then we would probably be fine.  In the end, Annie said they were perfect and that she would love to help us again.

The Griz lost on Friday night.  I have yet to see them win a National Championship.  I think Travis is going to get fed up and quit taking me to the games!  The weather was terrible– pouring rain.  We were lucky though, the tailgate was covered and we had great tickets for a luxury box.  All you can eat and drink.  At least if you have to watch them lose, we got to do it in style!

Friday night brought the start of a massive snow storm up the eastern seaboard.  Chattanooga got all rain, but we knew that DC was getting dumped on and we wer going to have to drive home through some bad roads.  We decided to avoid those getting on the road super early, and took the boys to the Children’s Museum for the morning.  It was fabulous and not expensive.  For instance, a local pass was $85 for the entire year.  We would join in a heartbeat if we were residents!  The kids enjoyed a water exhibit, a kitchen/grocery area, a play car, a great oversized musical instrument room and more.  We could have stayed all day, but needed to get lunch and get on the road.

We headed out of Chattanooga around 1:30pm with a car load of friends traveling behind us.  We all planned to stay in Roanoke again that night…if we could get there.  Snow in Southern Virginia and Tennessee can make for interesting conditions!  We actually made great time and had nothing more than rain up until about 35 miles South of Roanoke.  And then it all came to a halt, literally.  We crawled about 2.5 miles in over 2 hours.   We finally decided to get off at an exit, let the kids get a rest and find an alternate route around the interstate backup.  We learned that they were shutting down parts of the interstate to evacuate and remove stranded and abandoned vehicles along the interstate (estimated to be as many as 1000 cars!).  The backup was about 20 miles.  We took a US Highway and got right to our hotel.   All in all we lost well over 3 hours and arrived at 9:30pm to a hotel that was overbooked, a staff of cranky double shift workers and no food options.  The hotel restaurant was open and according to the front desk serving food until 10:30pm, however, they refused to seat us or serve us.  After a long talk with the manager, he disappeared and returned about 15 minutes later with a plate full of horrible looking well done red meat, broccoli smothered with butter and cheesy potatoes after I had explained that our kids had special dietary needs.  Finally they brought a couple of plates of fruit for the boys.  In the meantime, Travis found a BW3’s and got take out for the rest of us.  We finally made it to bed at midnight and Jack promptly woke us at 5:30am.  Yikes!  We spent the morning going over our alternate routes and finally decided to get back on the highway we had taken the night before to get around the backups.  We ended up going about 100 miles on the highway before being able to get back onto the interstate.   Sunday only added about an hour extra to our drive.  We came home around 4:30pm and a full 2 feet of snow to dig out from under.  This is by far the most snow I have ever seen in the 11 plus years I’ve lived in DC.  We spent the next 2 hours digging INTO our house and the kids and I playing.  Travis got another 2 hours of shoveling in the next day too!

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Christmas Tree

For the first time in several years we actually got a Christmas tree before December 23rd!  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.  I don’t think I can really get into the Christmas spirit until I have a tree to enjoy! 

Growing up we always got a permit and went up in the mountains to cut our own Christmas trees down.  We often got little trees for our bedrooms and a huge tree for the house.  The trees were beautiful and almost always the day included a ton of sledding.  I have fond memories of getting Christmas trees.  Getting a tree in the DC area is a little less exciting.  It usually includes a trip to several big box home improvement stores checking out the trees, followed by a few stops at smaller tree lots in which we find the prices ridiculous.  This year we went back to a lot that we have gotten trees at before.  They are a family from South of Eugene, OR that grows their trees and trucks them back east on their own.  I love their trees because they always have a few types of fir trees, which is what we often had growing up.  We still paid a pretty penny but at least the tree is pretty!

The day we chose to get our tree, it poured rain.  Jack and I quickly picked out a few to choose from and Travis made the final decision.  He is much better at realizing what size tree actually fits in our tiny living room.  He did a great job because the tree is perfect!

It took us a couple of days to get a chance to decorate the tree when the boys could help.  G was not that into the decorating thing. I basically forced him to put one ornament on and then put him to bed.  He was a crank!  Jack on the other hand really enjoyed the decorating this year.  He was lots of “help”!  It was difficult to keep him away from me when I strung the lights and ribbon for garland, but luckily he took suggestions of where to hang the ornaments well.  Our tree is pretty balanced.  No secret rearranging of ornaments took place at the Gianchetta household! 

It is hard to get pictures of our tree, but at least you can see it.  I actually love my decorations.  I’m one of the few people in the world who doesn’t like the miniature lights and sticks with the old school C7 lights.  Years ago my Mom and I found this amazing wire ribbon at Herbergers in Great Falls.  It works so well with the bigger lights.  This year our tree is small enough that we only put on our special ornaments.  It actually took little time to put up, so it should be easy to take down!  We are starting to get presents underneath it and so far no little fingers have unwrapped anything.  We will see how long that lasts!

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Jack’s Christmas Program

Jack had his first Christmas program at pre-school a few weeks ago.  He had been very excited about it.  They learned a few special songs in music class.  He had been practicing for us very enthusiastically but would give us little details about the program.  He just kept telling us it was a secret.  This cracked us up because “a secret” isn’t really a common phrase around our house.  We later realized that he had been making us gifts at school that he was supposed to keep a secret from us, so I suppose that is why he wouldn’ reveal details on the Christmas program either.  We are saving the gifts for Christmas morning and so far he hasn’t told us what they are.  I guess he understands the secret thing pretty well!

The Christmas program was awesome.  In years past only the older classes participated, but this year there is a new music teacher and the entire school had a part.  This was especially adorable for the pre-two’s class who were the presents and were pushed through the sanctuary in their crib!  Jack’s class and one other 3 year old class were the doves.  Each class wore a necklace sign they had made depicting what they were.  Jack later told us he wore the dove sign but “really it just looks like a funny duck.”  He wasn’t really impressed.  However, he thoroughly enjoyed the singing.  His class sang an adapted version of Jingle Bells.  Poor kid now thinks Jingle Bells includes the lines “listen while we say, Jesus came into my heart and washed my sins away”.  And to top it off, Garrett tries to sing every song that Jack belts out so he too thinks this is a real line of the song.  Hopefully by next Christmas we will be able to convince them of the real words!

The performance went well.  Jack’s class was all dressed in their Christmas best and made it through the whole performance.  Each class had a different part of the program and was brought up the aisle one group at a time to sing their song.  Jack did a great job and was easily heard.  He must have thought they would get to sing their first song more than once because when they finished it he very loudly said something like “Oh no.  I didn’t get to sing it all.  We have to sing it again.”  But then they started their second song and he was okay.  We tried to get pictures but it was difficult.  Trav recorded the whole program on the Camcorder, so hopefully we got some good footage.  We haven’t had a chance to check it out or edit it down to a clip of Jack.  We’ll put it up when we get time– so don’t hold your breath for it being anytime soon!  One Christmas program down, countless more to go!

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