Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in Texas, Part 1

For Christmas this year, we spent a lovely 4 days in Texas with Andrew's side of the family.  I had forgotten how special Christmas feels with little kids around!  We ate a lot of good food, played games, talked non-stop, and slept as much as possible with two toddlers in the house.  Speaking of toddlers....

It was so fun watching the two little cousins play with (or near) each other!  Sonia and Nicholas had the typical 2-year-old-kid toy tussles every now and again, but for the most part, they had a great time.  Whenever they weren't together (when one was sleeping or in the bathroom or wherever), they were looking around, trying to find the other one.  I loved the look of glee Sonia would get when Nicholas woke up in the morning (always long after her!), and Nicholas's happy dance when he first caught sight of her on Christmas Eve morning was priceless.  (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: cousins are awesome!  I love you, Wagners, Scotts, Jarnagins, and Colners!)

Here are a few pictures from the first couple of days:

Aunt Ali and Sosini bonded over a shared love of books.

I baked a batch of kinda sketchy gingerbread cookies with two of the cutest (and most enthusiastic) sous chefs in the entire world!

Nicholas and Sonia whooped it up at Chuck E. Cheese...  We all had such a great time!

More to come....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Abominable Snowkid

This little girl seriously loves her snow!  She was so happy when we got another installment of the white stuff.

I think we played outside in the snow for at least an hour.  Sonia also loves her totally awesome Brobee hat (a Christmas present from her really cool godparents)!

Sosini led us all over the neighborhood, checking out the amount of snow that everyone got.

Andrew liked the red berries on this tree.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Snow of the Season!

Sosini loves her hand-me-down winter coat from cousin Charbunkle!  She can't wait until we get enough snow to do some real playing.....

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I love dressing up my little dolly!  Most days, when Sonia has serious playing going on, she wears casual clothes that occasionally verge on tomboyish.  However, when we participate in less strenuous activities that don't involve a lot of climbing and other shenanigans (like library story time or the Polar Express), it's fun to bust out Sosi's dressier duds.

Outfit #1: the last wearing of the beautiful navy jumper given to The Great Sosini by her beloved Grandma Jenni as a Christmas gift last year.  You can tell in the picture that it's getting a bit tight in the armpits!  Unfortunately, you can't see Sosi's gold sparkly shoes (handed down by Charlotte) very well in this picture.  Sonia thinks those are so cool!

Outfit #2: cozy velour (with jersey sleeves) ballet dress handed down by Sonia's buddy, Sophie.  If you look closely, you can see little embroidered ballet slippers dangling from the bow at the empire waist.  The only time (so far) that she has worn this dress, Sosini irreparably stained the white sleeves, so I think I'm going to have to do a little surgery on the dress to see how it looks without the faux-layering.

Outfit #3: pink & gray sweater dress by Old Navy (purchased by me at Once Upon a Child).  Unfortunately, both times Ms. Cuckoo Bird has worn it, I haven't remembered to have her pose nicely to show the dress off properly for the camera.... Oh well-- you get the idea in this picture of Sonia in train heaven at the Morton Arboretum's Enchanted Railroad exhibit.

Outfit #4: another look at the beautiful red plaid dress/coat/hat and shiny patent leather mary jane shoes handed down by Sophie....  Sonia really, really loves this outfit!  The dress is a bit short on her, but Sonia doesn't care-- she couldn't stop looking at herself in the mirror.  Who can blame her?  Girlfriend can rock a red plaid dress, that's for sure. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We're gonna riiiiiiiiiiiiide.....

..... the Polar Express!  Every year, commuter trains all over the nation put together fun holiday-themed train rides for little kids, and the one from Lisle to downtown Chicago and back features candy canes, decorations, Christmas story characters (including Santa, of course!), coloring, Christmas carols, balloon animals, a reading of the Polar Express book, and the pure joy that little kids get from riding a real-live train.  Have you ever heard of an event more suited to The Great Sosini?

Last year at this time, she wasn't all that impressed with riding the Polar Express (other than eating her very first candy cane, which was a big hit with her).  But in the past year, she has fallen in love with all forms of transportation, including trains.  She hears all about Daddy riding the train to work, and I think she imagines his train to be something like either Thomas the Tank Engine or Dinosaur Train.  Boarding a real train was an eye-opening experience for Sonia!

(I apologize for the odd look to the first two pictures-- I had accidentally left the camera on the "macro" setting and didn't realize it until 1/3rd of the way into the ride.  Oops.)

We dressed Sonia in a ridiculously adorable dress/jacket/hat outfit handed down to her by her buddy, Sophie....  Sosini was so excited to wear it!  She was also excited to be seated next to her beloved Daddy on a train.

Clutching her pink balloon reindeer

Checking out the Sears Tower (okay, whatever, I know it's the Willis Tower now, but I don't care) off in the distance

Doing a bit of light reading during the second half of the ride

Finally!  A candy cane!

Even though the train was PACKED and we didn't get there as early as we should have, we managed to meet up with one of the two families we knew were riding the train.  Sonia and Ike thought the whole experience was pretty cool!

We missed the mad dash for seats, so we had to sit in the upper deck of the train.  Sonia liked the good vantage point she had for people-watching.

Studiously avoiding looking at Santa....  She once again missed her chance to ask him for a "big Professor Z".  I think it's time to have her dictate a letter to Santa!

Oh, Sonia Balogna.  You are such a funny little girl.  We had a lovely day with you!  Christmas is so much fun to experience with children.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Tis the season... torture our poor child by making her sit on a strange man's lap (and then take pictures)!

Poor Santa....  He was struggling to hold Sonia on his lap (she kept trying to fall off sideways) while two photographers and I desperately tried to get her hands away from her face and do the impossible-- make her smile.  The outing had started out with such promise: Sosini was in a great mood, and in line, she had been practicing what she was going to say when Santa asked what she wanted for Christmas ("a big Pwofessoh Z"-- a toy from the Cars 2 movie-- she kept saying it over and over!).  We giggled together when we watched a little boy ahead of us in line take out a toy catalog and point out EXACTLY what he wanted to the bemused Santa.  But when The Great Sosini and I got to the front of the line, she suddenly stood stock-still and decided that she wanted nothing to do with the strange man in red.  Oh well!  The starlight mint sucker that she received after the ordeal made her forget all about Santa in 30 seconds flat.  We then happily skipped off toward the children's play area to meet up with some friends.

Here's a look back at Sonia's dubious past with Kris Kringle....

2010: WHO IS THIS GUY?!?!?

2009: Couldn't my mommy and daddy afford a longer dress so the whole world couldn't see my nether-regions?

I absolutely love the Santa's lap picture tradition, so even though it has caused Sosini tiny bits of angst so far, she'll get a chance in years to come to see it ain't all that bad.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving (part 2)

Thanksgiving evening, right before bed, Sonia was struck down by a tummy bug.  The next 8 hours were a little rough, but on Friday morning, she made a miraculous recovery.  Other than being a little more subdued than normal, The Great Sosini had a perfectly lovely day.  The whole crew (minus me) went to play at a playground at a nearby elementary school, and since I wasn't in attendance, I'll let Niki post the awesome pictures they took there. 

That afternoon, Niki and I baked and decorated a choo-choo train birthday cake for an early celebration of Peter's 2nd birthday.  Upon inspecting the cake, Sonia informed us that the cake actually looked like a truck.  Yeah, she was kind of right.  Whatever!  Petey likes all forms of transportation.

While we were making the cake, Sosini and Charbunkle were dying to get in on the baking and decorating action.  We gave them a small part of the cake that we didn't need and encouraged them to go nutty decorating it.  The girls mostly just went nutty eating the frosting and candy decorations.

Before cake eating, we opened presents.  The girls gave the birthday boy a little assistance in opening this present that Andrew, Sosini, and I gave him-- a Thomas Take-and-Play Tidmouth Sheds!  Petey has a December birthday, so a few of his presents were wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  Good thing none of them can read, because this wrapping paper said not to open the package until December 25th.

Grandpa Spike helped Peetza-Pie blow the candle out on his train/truck cake.

Snuggles for the almost-2-year-old from his uncle....  Petey really loved hanging out with Uncle Andrew!

Saturday morning, we took the kids to Jump Zone to help them (and us!) burn off the massive amounts of sugar consumed the night before.  As always, hilarity ensued.

We loved this Sesame Street jump just for little kids....  I wish we had it here at our jump places!


Sosi and Petey LOVED this cool teeter-totter!  Once they discovered it, all jumping ceased and they hogged this piece of equipment until we left.

Time for more baking!  How many toddlers does it take to make one package of brownies?

More playing in the hot tub....

Sonia found the swimmies that she had used back when we were in TX in July, and she picked up right where she left off, teaching herself how to swim.

That pretty much takes us to Sunday morning when Andrew, Sosini, and I flew back to Illinois....  We had such a great time!  Thank you for such a fun holiday, everyone.  Corey, we missed you a ton-- we were all so sad that you had to work and couldn't make it to Texas.  Hopefully next year's holiday season will be a less crazy time for you!