Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving, Christmas tree, and a movie...

This fall has been quite good in terms of weather so it seemed appropriate that it would start to finally snow on Thanksgiving. I know it's still technically fall, but this holiday seems more like a winter holiday to me. Last year was quite cold and there was already plenty of snow at this time. I'd rather do without it, to be honest, but it does seem pretty magical through the eyes of a 5 year old.

This year we spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws house along with a few other family members (my father in law's son, his fiance and her daughter). It was a nice mellow get together filled with good food, a game, and a bunch of HGTV.

Riley: Where are you in this picture, mom? Me: Um, I'm taking the picture. Then I remembered that I was in a picture, but it was taken with Amy's phone and not my camera. Guess, I need to make more of an effort to get in the picture.

South of us got a little more snow

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed out to Hansen Tree Farm to get our Christmas tree. I think this is our third year here and I anticipate it won't be our last. The trees are far more expensive than I ever thought I would pay for a tree, but there are a few reasons we come here:

1. It's probably the closest 'cut your own' tree farm to our house - time is valuable and we don't want to be driving far out of our way.

2. It's the whole 'cut your own' experience - something I grew up with at our own farm. It doesn't have the thrill of it also being hunting season (in Wisconsin) as it did when I was young, but that's probably for the best.

3. The staff has always been great - a well run establishment.

4. The syrup - this one may seem silly, but we bought a bottle of syrup the first year and fell in love with the bottle. It provided a clean pour with no drips so, while we refilled it over the course of the year, the cap started to come off which meant we had to go back for a new one.

5. They provide a saw, shake and bag your tree, and load it onto your car for you.

After we cut our tree down we headed into the gift store to browse and get our free hot dogs, Christmas sausage, hot chocolate, and hot cider. We watched a guy make wreaths and some other people carve ornaments out of wood and then we purchased our syrup and a glass ornament before heading outside again.

While outside Riley played in the 'log' cabin and then we sat around the fire. We were waiting for the hayride to start up again, but that didn't happen while we were there so we headed home.

Riley's been itching to decorate for Christmas so she was a little bummed when we told her we were going to let the tree settle a little. That was true, but also code for "you need to rest, kid". She doesn't nap very often these days, but she crashed on this day. Afterwards we got right to business.

Years ago, we got a tree that was just too big for our space and it seems that each year we correct for that a little more. This is certainly one of our smaller trees, but still a decent size so no complaints here.

This seems like a good place to stop, but I might as well mention that we went to see The Good Dinosaur. I liked it better than Jesse, but I will say that I think it was waaaaay more scary than it needed to be (do the writers not have kids?). I don't want to give it away, but Disney did something they do in far too many of their kid's movies and it's starting to piss me off. Riley enjoyed it, but did spend half the movie snuggled up tight to me. Anyway, proceed with caution especially if you have a sensitive kid.

Edit: I spent three hours sleeping in Riley's bed last night after she had a bad dream. Yup, this movie was too scary for her.

Edit #2: We decided to squeeze in one more holiday event this weekend and went to the Christkindlsmarkt in Excelsior. We'd never been before and almost missed this year if it hadn't been for a friend's Instagram post. Jesse feels like we need to give the Holidazzle market a couple more years to refine so it was nice to get to some Christmas market this year (I'm still going to try to convince him to go to Holidazzle - we'll see if I am successful or not).

It's been years since I've been to Excelsior, but I always loved the coziness of this town. It has a small town feel without feeling small town. Does that make sense? Anyhoo, Jesse loved it too, but the market wasn't as great as we were hoping. I think we missed most of the fun stuff (parade, visiting deer, etc), and one of the food places with German sausage and kraut was closed up. We checked out the Kinderworld area, but it just had some Christmas stuff jammed up against the far side of the tent soooo not sure what that was all about.

We went on the trolley ride, which wasn't much of a ride. We rode a short distance and then the trolley stopped while the kids got to have photo ops with Santa. Unfortunately, Riley wants nothing to do with Santa so this didn't appeal to her. Earlier Santa was walking around and got right in her face with his scratchy beard rubbing up against her cheek. He was pretty aggressive as far as Santa's go. She looked like she was counting the moments until life ended. We were also crammed into one seat so this is the best picture I was able to snap...

So, it wasn't anything special. We might try it next year, but will try to go on a different day when there are more activities. I do know that we will be back to Excelsior to try one of their many restaurants and wander down by the lake. We loved all the small businesses and as we walked back to our car Riley got super excited when she saw a bookstore so we stopped in and got a couple books.

And that concludes our holiday activities for the weekend.

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