Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Recap: Part 2

On Christmas morning, everyone awoke bright and early (well, we are in Minnesota...so the whole "bright" part didn't really occur until about 8:00 am) to open their stockings.

After the stockings were emptied and all the chocolate candy consumed, we headed into the kitchen for a cinnamon roll and caramel roll breakfast....which I unfortunately forgot to photographically document.

Before prepping food for Christmas lunch, I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous, unseasonably *warm* (remember...Minnesota...and yes, my 35-degree morning run felt warm!) weather and headed out for a Christmas morning run.  It was truly a beautiful morning with just a light breeze....and the best part was that I didn't have to dodge any ice or snow piles at all!  At first I was a little bummed about not getting a white Christmas this year (in fact, I really can't remember the last time we had anything other than a white Christmas), but after my Christmas run, I decided the whole brown Christmas thing wasn't really that bad after all. 

My parents and brother arrived later on Christmas morning and the kids were excited to open the remainder of their presents from my side of the family.




After all the present opening, we had definitely worked up an appetite for our Christmas lunch of grilled steak (again....totally uncharacteristic for Minnesota).  We all squeezed into our kitchen and gathered round our cozy table to dig in!


When we were sufficiently stuffed, we spent the afternoon watching movies, visiting, and playing with all the kids' new toys. 





Later in the afternoon, when our stomachs had finally settled enough and we were able to breathe once again, it was time for dessert.  While the kids indulged in leftover Birthday cupcakes, Christmas cookies, and peppermint ice cream, we took a knife to this baby....


Yes....that, my dear friends, is a pecan pie....in the shape of the good ole' state of Texas

When my parents and brother traveled to Texas a few years ago to visit my grandparents they had the opportunity to partake in the world's best piece of pecan pie at Gaido's in Galveston, TX.  When they discovered that Gaido's shipped whole pecan pies to any state in the US, my dad made sure to order one for all of us to indulge in on Christmas.  And when the online order form asked whether or not we wanted a typical round pecan pie or a pecan pie shaped like Texas, we figured we definitely needed to see...in person...the Texas-shaped pie. 

I was actually unaware that pies were made to resemble states, but it does not surprise me, in the least, that there are indeed Texas-shaped pecan pies.  Come to think of it, this whole state-shaped food idea isn't really all that new to me.  I guess I did spend most of my childhood living in a state that manufacturers wax-covered cheese blocks to resemble its own shape.....

Anyway, the pie definitely lived up to all of its hype.  I'm unsure of which part of Texas I actually ate, mostly due to the fact that my warm, gooey piece of pecan heaven was smothered in a heap of vanilla ice cream, but it was pure bliss...just the right combination of pecan and cake-like, caramel substance...it definitely was the best piece of pecan pie I've ever eaten. 

And, with that perfect piece of pecan pie and the sweet taste of victory for Ben's beloved Packers, Christmas 2011 drew to a close. 

Christmas Recap: Part 1

Now that we have officially cleaned up after the busy Christmas season (decorations put away, Styrofoam and wrapping paper bits vacuumed up, toys organized and put away, outside lights taken down, the last two Christmas cookies consumed, the last spoonful of peppermint ice cream licked clean), it is high time for me to put together our Christmas 2011 recap. 

Ben has had off all week from work and I intended to get around to the blog a lot sooner, but between a trip to MOA for the kids to spend their Christmas money (that has been burning a hole in their pockets), two whole days' of organizing and cleaning and laundry, a date lunch with Ben to PF Chang's followed by errands, an emergency shower faucet fix, lots of card games, new LEGO construction, hours spent reading new American Girl books, getting my new lap top up and running, late nights spent watching movies and catching up on the DVR, and sleeping in until the late hour of 7:15 am, I just haven't had as much free time as I originally anticipated. 

Plus, add to that a semi-miserable one-year old who is most definitely cutting her molars, a 4-year old that is so over tired he can barely speak a sentence without bursting out in tears, and a still overly- excited 6 year old who is determined to complete every single art project on the face of the earth by the time she returns to school next Tuesday, and you have yourself a recipe for chaos.  Fun chaos, but chaos nonetheless. 

Regardless, we've definitely enjoyed our time together this Christmas and are thankful to have a few more days before normal life chaos begins next Tuesday.  Although we have no real exciting plans for the long weekend ahead, I'm sure we'll find a way to keep busy...and if Ben and I don't come up with something, I'm certain there are three others living under this roof that will. 

Ok....

Back to the Christmas 2011 Recap.

Christmas Eve was spent mostly with my parents.  We got all dressed up....


before heading out for a fabulous brunch at Pier 500 in Hudson, WI (seriously the best french toast and cheesy breakfast potatoes I have EVER eaten) followed by the Christmas Eve service at my parent's church. 

I was a little worried about how the kids would do, specifically because they all knew we would be opening presents that evening and I was concerned the excitement over finally being able to rip into the wrapped boxes that have been sitting in our living room all month would make them go crazy, but they all did great and yet again, proved me completely wrong. 

Olivia made it through most of the church service before I had to take her out because she was making kissing sounds ("mmmmwuah!") that were starting to become a little disruptive to those of us trying to listen to the message.  Zach, though a bit wiggly (probably because if he actually sat still, he would fall asleep), recognized several of the scripture passages and did not hesitate to tell us in a not-so-quiet voice that those are "MY VERSES!"  Allie was sitting next to my parents, so I'm not sure how she did, but I didn't hear her or really see her, so I'm guessing there wasn't a problem! 

When we returned back home, we ate dinner (thank goodness for Crock Pot Sloppy Joes), complete with Birthday Cupcakes for Jesus!


Olivia was NOT happy that we made her wait until after we sang "Happy Birthday" to blow out the candle and eat her cupcake.



Before opening presents, we read the Christmas story and opened up the very last door on our Advent Calendar. 

Olivia was thrilled to open the door and find Baby Jesus!


And then, it was present time!













The kids were thrilled with everything and it was fun to watch their excitement as they saw the special gifts picked out for them by us and their family. 

It was a little difficult to convince the kids to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, but they eventually succumbed to their over-tired little bodies and I'm pretty sure Ben and I flopped into bed shortly after making sure all the kids were sound asleep......

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Oh come thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight....


 
"...and they shall call his name Immanuel which means,
God with us." 
-Matthew 1:23


 
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel!
Shall come to thee, O Israel. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Little Too Much Christmas

Obviously Zach didn't make it through our very last Christmas light viewing excursion of the year. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

We Don't Have a Baby Anymore...

We have a full-fledged TODDLER! 
Last night before her bath, she just took off!  Olivia has been taking 1-2 steps by herself for quite some time now, but last night she was walking all over the house...
ALL BY HERSELF!
Granted, she's still a little tipsy....
and she still relies on crawling to get places quickly....
because, for goodness sake, walking requires A LOT of focused concentration and muscle coordination.
She was pretty proud of herself, though.
A little hesitant about walking on something other than carpet...
but even that little uncertainty didn't stop her!

Both Allie and Zach began walking mere days before Christmas and it looks like Olivia followed suit beautifully.
Unfortunately, last night's walking debut resulted in quite the shiner on her little forehead.
I guess we should have gotten her a helmet and some extra padding for Christmas!