#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number twelve

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 ····· on the twelfth date of christmas ·····

dinner and strolling

we did it! twelve dates, and then some. and yes, *technically* the final date was in 2016. but, as we all know, the christmas season doesn’t *technically* end until epiphany. so, we might have gotten it in just in the st. nick of time… but, we got it in, nonetheless.

to close things out, we decided on a legit date night. just us. out on the town. we had lots of family dates and double dates and group dates this year. parties. events. gatherings. so after all that hustle and bustle, our “just us” dates were mostly spent at home. quiet. sweet moments together after the little ones were asleep. but for the 12th date, we opted for an evening out. nothing fussy. just a few uninterrupted hours to enjoy a meal, walk, shop, chat and plan, and grab some treats. it was the perfect way to cap off the holiday season. we revisited moments from the prior weeks. we laughed until we cried. we joked. we held hands. we ate ALL THE CARBS. we focused. we refocused. we set intentions for 2016. we dreamed. we planned. we used up our gift cards on some fabulous fitness gear. we redecorated rooms in our heads. we selected a few items for my new home office space. we resisted the urge to go into gap kids and buy all the (totally unnecessary) things on the sale rack. and then we shared a few fancy french chocolates and macarons before heading back to pick up elinor and ridley.

it was just right.

until next year, christmas!

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#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number eleven

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 ····· on the eleventh date of christmas ·····

annual family brunch and shopping extravaganza

over the weekend, ben so thoughtfully offered to spend the morning at home with the kids so that i could fly solo and meet up with the whole whitehouse crew for the annual brunching and browsing and buying outing. i have missed it for the last couple of years, but this year the event was scheduled on a saturday so, no excuses. and since ben has been busy-busy doing his year-end-financial-dividend-market-stocks-mutual-funds-buy-sell-bull-bear things (please don’t ask me what he does. that explanation is about as close as i can get.), he was thrilled to have an opportunity to crash at home and enjoy a quiet morning of playing with the kids and having a coffee date with elinor.

and so, i donned my festive plaid apparel and blasted christmas music in the car…and braved the crowds. all of the glorious hustle and bustle!

once our crew squished into a cozy booth at snooze, we ordered a pancake flight to get things started…so, yeah. it was once of those meals. we lingered over our breakfast feast and once we were feeling full and fine, we got down to the business of shopping.

all my shopping was done, so i was really just along for the ride. but, i did my best to provide stimulating conversation and comic relief. oh, and i might have snagged an extra pair of hanna jams for ridley because they were having a killer sale and i am a sucker for babies in pajamas. and ’tis the season for wearing jams all day long, am i right?

and speaking of jams and  ’tis the season…three more sleeps ’til Christmas!

#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number ten

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 ····· on the tenth date of christmas ·····

annual formage fest

kind of can’t believe we are on number TEN already! that means christmas must be super close… (and yes, i skipped number eight and number nine on the blog. they totally happened and they were FABULOUS but they were documented on insta. the blog content fills up fast during this season. you can see a few snaps herewe wrapped gifts and enjoyed some seasonal treats and watched elf and enjoyed a tasty dinner with family.) we still need to get some “just us” date nights lined up but i have a feeling that won’t happen until january. anywho… back to cheese.

our tenth date was all about the cheese. we did a cheese night with my SIL and her man last year and decided then that this must become an annual thing. i mean, fondue. and ooey-gooey pasta.

this year, we arranged a post-church afternoon of fromage and rach and nate hosted. their home is the ideal set up for such an occasion. cool air from open windows (plus a space heater for those among us who need such nonsense). cozy nooks for curling up. the cutest tabletop tree. and lit garland hanging from wooden beams. and after we filled out bellies with our fondue starter followed by crispy-on-top baked cheesy noodles. we really put things over the top by eating a few too many (ha! no such thing) chocolate crinkle cookies while watching the great holiday baking show (an american, holiday version of the great british baking show. have you watched that? so great.). it was such fun. elinor was beside herself. cheese is kind of her favorite. and she loves to dip things in sauce. and she definitely loves noodles. but mostly, she was in it for the cookies. in fact, within a few minutes of arriving, elinor said to auntie rachel: “someone told me i could have cookies here.” so, that was hilarious. she gets that one-track-cookie-mind from her papa. for sure. but, ’tis the season, right? eat all the cookies, my friends. live it up! and cheese. eat plenty of that stuff too.

thanks for a perfect afternoon of conversion and nourishment and laughter, schroeder fam. and happy christmas!

#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number seven

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 ····· on the seventh date of christmas ·····

snowfall + a visit to santa + pizza

on saturday, after sawyer’s birthday party, we hopped back in the sleigh (well, wagon) and made our way to kierland commons for what is becoming a bit of a tradition: watching the faux snow fall in the shopping center square. we don’t exactly live in a small town with a quaint town square complete with a freshly chopped tree. nope. around here, we head to our outdoor shopping center to enjoy the twinkling lights on the palm trees and the faux snow being blown over the crowd gathered around the perfectly appointed fake tree. hey, that’s christmas in the desert, my friends. and we are absolutely okay with it.

last year, elinor really enjoyed the lights on the tree BUT the snow kind of weirded her out. well, this year…this year was the year. she was delighted by the snow. faux and all. (although, she did keep brushing it out of her hair and letting us know that she needed to take a shower…funny girl.)

elinor ran around with some kids. ridley and i boogied away to the festive jazz band tunes. and we all laughed at our cheerful elinor when the snow fell. we got to wear our sweaters and jackets and everything…but the bonus of faux snow is no bundling up in mega-coats! you get to enjoy the flakes with just a long-sleeved shirt and one more layer. so, that’s nice. at some point, we will definitely take her up north for a legit snow day. but this isn’t too shabby for an easy-breezy saturday afternoon jaunt.

oh yes, and there is the matter of santa claus. elinor paid him a visit. she was so polite and precious. as he lifted her up onto his lap, she wished him merry christmas in the tenderest voice. very cindy lou who. he asked her what she wanted and she whispered that she wanted a shirt and a book. he laughed and tried to cajole her. but she was content. pretty sure my eyes were glistening at this point. she thanked him for the cookie that he gave her and let him know that she would leave some treats from him on christmas eve. and with a big hug, she departed. it was a moment i will never forget. we didn’t splurge on the picture package…we just observed and let it unfold. and oh my goodness. i am so glad that i was able to witness her tender heart. her grateful heart. her sweet spirit.

(mama dries her eyes and resumes typing)

after the snow party and santa, we grabbed an al fresco table at a pizza joint conveniently located next to the tree for primo viewing. ridley nibbled away on his teething toys. (p.s. he was really eyeing our bread. and i had to stop myself from involuntarily breaking off a piece and handing it to him. silly mama. we are almost to solids, almost. i have a feeling he will take to it just fine seeing as he follows food with his steely gaze and tries to snatch morsels from my hand. sheesh.) elinor and neena took a quick stroll to a nearby shop. my mum, always the thoughtful lady, showed elinor some of the trinkets for sale and agreed to buy a little something for the little miss. well, instead of selecting a stuffed animal or some other kind of child-friendly toy, elinor chose a “special big cup with an E for Elinor”. so she could have coffee in it, but of course. she’s clearly her papa’s daughter. pragmatic with a dash of fancy. and i wouldn’t have it any other way. and you should have seen her prancing out of the store with her shopping bag slung over her shoulder. so happy. so proud. (and she has been drinking her tablespoon of coffee with frothy almond milk each morning since)

okay, where were we. ah, yes. pizza.

when there were a few slices left to be consumed, the clock struck 7pm which meant, snowfall again. the hoopla started up and elinor FREAKED OUT. she practically leapt from her seat as she announced, “OH! the snow! it’s snowing again! come on…it’s almost over!” it was hilarious. and being a wonderful grandpa, booboo hurried to gobble up a few final bites of pizza before whisking elinor away to see the snow. again. AGAIN. snowfall, AGAIN! elinor couldn’t believe it. she could barely contain her joy. meanwhile, we were busting up and our hearts were bursting. there’s nothing better than experiencing this season with a child. they just, get it. they do it right. they don’t have to try to be festive or do things to get into the spirit of the season. they are the definition of effervescing. they exude childlike wonder and delight. may i have this childlike faith. may i approach the advent season with the same honest sense of wonder and delight. may i revel in the simple pleasures of this brilliant season.

#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number six

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 ····· on the sixth date of christmas ·····

watching love actually and splitting a pint of seasonal ice cream

one of my favorite nights of the season is our annual date night on the couch watching love actually. we have been watching this christmas “classic” for the last, gosh, eight years? i love the quirky and real portrayals of relationships. friendships. hardships. marriages. first loves. dating. et cetera. a dash of irreverent brit humor with lots of heart. i am always tearing up by the end. and sometimes, even in the first few moments.

it isn’t exactly a family-friendly flick, but that just gives the adults around here a nice excuse to curl up with a pint of festive ice cream after the little ones (plural. look at us adult-ing with our two kids.) are tucked in for the night. we light candles, grab our slippers and fuzzy blankets, dive into our bowls of peppermint goodness, and bob’s your uncle!

this tradition serves as a bit of an unofficial start to the christmas season. we usually watch it around the five-weeks-until-Christmas mark because that is precisely when the movie is set…so, you gotta.

thanks for loving me so well, husband of mine. and thank you for making date nights a priority. it’s an honor and delight to do this life with you. xo & happy christmas.