Thursday, December 19, 2019

Weekend of Lights

We're definitely a family that appreciates experiences more than things. Our last several Christmases haven't involved things, but experiences for our children (the things they did receive for Christmas were things for our trips and tickets to things while on those trips). This Christmas we aren't doing experiences for the minis, as there's no epic trips in our future and nothing needed for the trips we are taking. I've been a little bummed about that this Christmas. That is, until my husband suggested we give our families an experience gift this Christmas. He decided the weekend before to rent a 15 passenger van and taking our families looking at Christmas lights around Des Moines. This made our weekend jam packed busy and fun!

Luckily, the minis and I had Friday off (Hubs took Friday off as well, because we shared our cold germs with him and wasn't feeling great). We spent our day baking cookies for our Cookie Decorating Day on Saturday, playing outside with friends, and I did A LOT of online shopping since I was slacking on Christmas (I'm not used to buying this many gifts!). In the late afternoon, we picked up the van, stopped at the store to stock up on snacks, and commenced with Light Looking Night #1.

Elizabeth spent her morning cutting up magazines with American Girl dolls she wants and places she'd like to visit. She said she was getting a start on next year's Christmas list.

She also made a boat instead of cleaning her room as I asked. She proceeded to tell me she couldn't move from her boat so she couldn't really clean. She really committed to it as she ate her lunch in "the boat" because, you know, she couldn't move. Since she was close to the floor, the cat assumed she was sharing her chicken. Bad decisions all around from the youngest one.

His shirt: I can get you on the naughty list. My shirt: Oh fudge! Those shirts should actually be reversed.

Night #1 stops included: a live Nativity at Capitol City Church, Gingerbread Lane in Ankeny, Jolly Holiday Lights, and Candy Cane Lane in Beaverdale. The line for the live nativity was long, but moved quickly. Everywhere else had no waiting and was easy in and out. The live nativity was interesting to see....and I loved that on the left was cousin Eddie and his RV and to our right was Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. 

I will say, having the passenger van with the kids in the back was a bummer for the live nativity. There were tons of costumed characters at the beginning of the drive thru and they were all talking to the kids in the vehicles ahead of us as their windows rolled down. In the passenger van, the back windows don't roll down so all of the characters talked to Matt and I instead. It was all fine and dandy, but got a litle weird when Buzz Lightyear comes up to us and says "to infinity and beyond." I was ready to be done with that. The minis would like to do the nativity again, but we'll do in our own car next year so they can talk to the characters and get the treats they were handing out.

Moving, dancing, and talking the entire light tour.

The giant bag of popcorn that accompanied us.

Saturday was our annual cookie decorating day at my parents house. We saved several hours to decorate cookies, but it only took us an hour! The minis knocked it out of the park with decorating! I had to laugh because in year's past, it seemed like it took forever to decorate the cookies, the kids complained, and the adults were left to finish the decorating AND keep an eye on the kids. Now, the kids do most of the cookies and have a fabulous time with it too! As the minis get older, this day gets funner.

 As requested by the minis, we spent the full day at my parents house, starting with chicken noodle soup and ending with pizza and Christmas lights.

Hot chocolate and cinnamon tea.

A pause for sprinkle eating.

Cookie decorating hazards. Luckily I brought extra clothes so we didn't have to walk around with frosting filled jeans!

A calming break before the craziness of looking at lights.

My cousin brought along with fun glasses. There were snowflakes, reindeer, and Santa's in addition to the snowman (pictured). I never want to look at Christmas lights without these again! These were awesome!

Night #2 stops included Jolly Holiday Lights, Gingerbread Lane and Frosting Lane, in addtion to a few other display in Ankeny (that was set to music!), West Des Moines, Valley Junction, and Candy Cane Lane in Beaverdale. Friday night involved so very little waiting and traffic that I was shocked to see the crazy line at Jolly Holiday Lights on Saturday. We waited in line for an hour before we made it in. Luckily, everyone was great sports and kept everything fun.


Me: What's your favorite light display?
My children: The one with Santa at the bar.
Me: You mean the Christmas Night Hawks display?
My children: No, the Santa at the bar display. It's not like the painting at all.

Yep. Definitely my children. Also, head palm.

We had two late nights, so we all slept in on Sunday and the minis insisted on staying home. It worked out well because Hubs and I took advantage of their exhaustion. They decorated the tree, we took a quick day date and went out for lunch and did some shopping. Any time I can do grocery shopping without kids in tow AND in the store is amazing. I go weeks without stepping foot into a grocery store (thanks to grocery deliveries and drive ups), so it's a big deal when I get to go!

The tree finally has ornaments!

We picked up daycare's new toy for the week (the Little People Frozen Castle) at Target while we were out shopping. The minis were excited about it too. Little People are the toys that never seem to lose kid's interests. I've invested A LOT of money into our LP collection over the years and I will never regret spending that money.

Renting the passenger van was a fun adventure for our holiday weekend and one I hope the minis will always remember!