I wanted to pop in and share my usual Things I’m Loving Friday blog post with you guys this morning but this one is almost going to be more of a Christmas 2019 recap since pretty much everything I’m loving this week centers around holiday-related food and festivities and family fun.
Things I’m Loving Friday #307: Christmas 2019 Edition
Bearnstein Bears Animatronic Holiday Show
I’ve seen the animatronic Bearstein Bears on just about every Charlotte-area list of things to do around town during the holiday season but for some reason we’ve never ventured over to Founders Hall to check them out until this year. A couple of days before Christmas it rained all day and we were on the lookout for an indoor holiday activity and I immediately remembered the bears!
Our crew bundled up and headed into the city to catch one of the 45-minute productions and it was such a cute kid-friendly little show! Also, as a parent, I love that the show runs constantly (pretty much every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) so it feels easy to find a time that will work for everyone. There’s also a coffee shop located nearby if you want to grab some hot chocolate to enjoy while you watch! (Note for any CLT locals: Today is the last day the bears will be performing for the year.)
(Thank to Chase for snapping the above pic on Christmas!)
My parents came up to spend Christmas with us this year (our first North Carolina Christmas ever!) and while we missed my in-laws and my sister and her family (they had a family reunion to attend), we made the most of our time together. I was especially thankful my mom and dad came to visit because Ryan got hit with the flu on Christmas Eve. I ended up taking him to urgent care and he began Tamiflu that day but he was down for the count on Christmas and spent all day quarantined in bed. I felt so, so bad for him (I swear once you get the flu and it kicks your butt, you have a whole new level of sympathy for anyone who gets it) and I tried to take pictures and videos of the boys to show him later.
Thankfully having my mom and dad on hand helped me feel like I had someone to share the boys’ excitement with and watching them plow through their stockings and spend all day playing with their new surprises was so much fun. Chase made all of us smile when he took it upon himself to place Santa’s cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer) directly in front of the fireplace so Santa wouldn’t miss it.
He also wanted to wrap up a present for Santa and I truly think the most excited I saw him all day long was the moment he came downstairs and ran over to see the cookies all gone. It clearly blew his mind and was so, so sweet. Christmas with kids is just the BEST.
I snapped the above pic after my dad helped the boys crack open the geodes from the geode kit Ryan picked out for them from Santa for Christmas. It was a mega-hit and they were so into it!
All the Games and Puzzles
Of the course of the past few days, we’ve spent a lot of time playing various games and tackling a couple of Christmas-themed puzzles. I’ve LOVED it and it’s really made me feel like we’re soaking up the holiday season and slowing down to do things we might not normally take time to do. My mom and I share a love for puzzles and she brought some fun Christmas puzzles to attempt during my parents’ stay. The above Springbok puzzle is a great one for families because the pieces on the outside are large (perfect for little ones like Chase!) and the ones in the middles are much smaller. We also loved playing many, many rounds of Mexican Train Dominoes with my dad and Ryan before Ryan got sick.
As for games and puzzles with the kids, Chase got a few surprises for Christmas that have been put to good use! My sister and Ross got Chase Guess Who? for Christmas and he’s shockingly great at it! (And Ryder is obsessed with putting the little flaps on the game up and down. Toddler entertainment!) Though Chase cannot read, when he gets down to one person in Guess Who?, he spells out their name for us to see if he won. He loves problem solving and Guess Who? is right up his alley!
A stocking-stuffer game Chase loves that’s similar to memory but more active and exciting for kids is Cat in the Hat’s I Can Do That game.
The game is really easy to learn and incorporates three color cards that, when flipped over at the same time, give you a task you must complete while holding a little fish toy somewhere awkward (under your chin, on top of your head, etc.) and everyone cracks up whenever we play this game! Watching my mom crab walk around a chair with the fish under her chin was a highlight for sure! Haha!
On the puzzle front, Chase received this Shapes Puzzle set from my parents which is AWESOME. I will 100 percent be giving this as a gift to kids in the future because it’s so cute but also educational and great for encouraging imagination, fostering fine motor skills and spatial awareness as well as color and shape recognition. Plus, it’s adorable!
One of the little tins above comes packed with little shapes and the other tin includes cards that give kids ideas for different things to build, such as various animals, modes of transportation, insects, people, fun designs etc.
On the agenda for today: Hoot Owl Hoot! My mother-in-law sent this game to Chase for Christmas and we’re excited to give it a try this afternoon! It has fantastic reviews for kids his age so I have a feeling it will be a hit.
Homemade Bird (Squirrel) Feeders
The weather on Christmas was gorgeous — mid-50s and sunny — and we spent a decent amount of time outside. (The above pic was snapped the day after Christmas when it was foggy in the morning but I had to include it to give the next little blurb some context!) On Christmas afternoon we ended up making homemade treats for the birds to hang in our backyard by spreading peanut butter on pieces of bread and sprinkling them with bird seed. Our “bird feeders” ended up being squirrel feeders which actually provided us with a lot of entertainment because the squirrels are quite agile and rather crafty!
Oh and Sadie cracked us up when she sniffed around our yard and finally located the hanging piece of peanut butter bread. Can you tell she’s a peanut butter lover like her mama!?
New Holiday Treats
(Ryder was so into decorating sugar cookies on Christmas! Maybe I will have one child who enjoys crafts after all?)
We’re two days post-Christmas and I still feel like I’m in a bit of a sugar coma. We certainly have not shied away from our family’s favorite holiday treats and this year we tried a few new-to-me recipes that were huge hits that I wanted to highlight here as well.
On Christmas morning, I made a big batch of cinnamon rolls — my first ever from-scratch cinnamon roll attempt! — and they were so wonderful. I followed the easy cinnamon rolls recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (one of my favorite blogs for fabulous dessert recipes and sweet treats) and the cinnamon rolls were true to their name — very, very easy! I topped them with the cream cheese cinnamon roll icing recipe I found on Ambitious Kitchen and my whole family said they were worthy of becoming a new Christmas morning tradition.
Another sweet treat worth highlighting was Nestle Toll House’s chocolate chip cookie pie. (The above pic is the pie right before it went into the oven. I completely spaced and forgot to take a pic when it was done!) I followed the recipe on the Nestle website and the only alteration I made was to swap out half of the chocolate chips for red and green M&Ms to give the cookie pie a little more of a festive look. We ate our pie warm with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and it was heavenly!
Question of the Day
How were the holidays for you this year? Any sweet or exciting highlights you’d like to share?