Monday, December 29, 2014


We were up and on the road before the sun rose to make it to my sister and bro-in-law's house in time for Christmas lunch and present opening.  It is a four hour trip from our home, so with two stops (one for coffee and one for potty--mostly because of the coffee) we still made it before lunch. 
The kids were thrilled to have their very own food year we'll have to pull up another chair for Drew's baby brother! 

Mandatory "kid shot" before presents. 

Drew was thrilled to open his presents. 

Finn was thrilled to see Grandma again.

Drew was also great at helping everyone open their presents. 

Thanks to Aunt Stephanie for the most perfect gift for Allie!!

Now my husband can light things on fire.

For the new baby!!

One of Drew's favorite Christmas presents. 

I wish I would have taken more pictures, but we were busy chatting and eating and playing with the kids!  It was a great day together as a family!

The next day, my parents and brother headed out.  We decided to take the kids to the local YMCA to play and swim all morning long.  They all had a grand time and burned off some much needed energy (mostly due to all that sugar from way too many delicious Christmas cookies!).  In the afternoon, the guys hung out with the kids while my sister and I snuck away for a pedicure.  It was pure bliss!

When we returned, it was almost 50 degrees outside!  Since such weather is almost unheard of in Wisconsin in December, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking and playing at the park...without coats and jackets!  After dinner, we loaded the kids up in my sister's mini van to go and see a fantastic Christmas light display by the lake.  We hadn't seen many Christmas light displays yet this year, so everyone enjoyed it! 

We left for home on Saturday morning and actually drove through a snowstorm!  Crazy.  We returned home to plenty of snow and some very excited kids who quickly bundled up and spent the afternoon playing and sledding (big thanks to Ben for supervising the outdoor winter activities while I tackled the massive pile of laundry and made hot chocolate for their return!). 

Since our return, we've completely taken down all of our Christmas decorations, run several errands, and even enjoyed the Packers victory at our neighbor's house.  Tomorrow Ben heads back to work for a couple days before having the rest of the week off.  Here's to a fun rest of the week enjoying a break before 2015 begins!

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve this year at home with just the five of us.  It was a nice, low-key day that began very early because of these three excited kiddoes: 

Allie's first dangly earrings!
After opening stockings right away (we usually save stockings for Christmas morning, but since we needed to be on the road bright and early, we decided to do them on Christmas Eve), we enjoyed a big breakfast, complete with a butter braid (instead of a birthday cake) for Jesus! 

Everyone was excited for present opening, so after breakfast and reading through our last advent devotional, we headed over to the tree.  We would usually wait to open presents until the afternoon, but since we needed to pack our bags and head out early on Christmas Day, we wanted the kids to have a chance to enjoy their gifts before leaving. 

What could be in these ginormous boxes from Grandma and Grandpa!?

We have never beheld such speedy present opening.

Yay!  Just in time for our trip!

Olivia's only Christmas request this year was a "jewelry music box with a twirling ballerina figurine."

She was so happy when she opened it up!

Zach's only request was a tool bag and a new tool.

Needless to say, he was thrilled!

Surprisingly, Allie didn't have one request this year!  Good thing we know what she likes, though.

We can never go wrong with Packer gear for this kid.'s either horses or dogs for this gal.

Pink is Olivia's very favorite color, so I was not surprised that this is her new favorite book!

Olivia's present that she made for us.  I forgot to take a picture of the ornaments the other two kids made. 

We had a great celebration on Christmas Eve and even though it didn't feel like Christmas outside (yes, we had a BROWN and snowless Christmas), we enjoyed celebrating Jesus' Birthday nonetheless. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Programs Galore!

This year we attended THREE Christmas music programs! 

We began with Allie's third grade Christmas program at school.  She was initially bummed out to not be assigned a speaking or solo part, but we were really proud of her positive attitude the weeks leading up to the concert despite her disappointment.  The day of the performance, one of the girls with a speaking part was out sick with the flu, so Allie was asked to step in.  She did so happily and even though she was a little nervous, she memorized the part and delivered her lines without trouble.  Great job, Allie!  Afterwards, we celebrated a job well done with frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf!

Next up was Zach's first grade school Christmas program.  Zach really does not like being on stage and was anxious about his program for quite some time.  We were really proud that he did indeed participate and sang every single song!  Awesome job, Zach!  To celebrate his performance, we indulged in an at-home-make-your-own ice cream sundae bar.  I also couldn't keep from snapping a few shots at some of his Christmas artwork while we were at school. 

The day after his Christmas program was crazy hair day at school....we sent him with his crazy bed head. 

Olivia's preschool Christmas Pageant was last in our list of festive performances.  Since it was during the day, Ben and the kids weren't able to attend, but I made sure to take lots of pictures and video.  Plus, Grandma was able to attend and Olivia was thrilled.  Olivia sang all of her songs (with volume and passion) and my mom and I couldn't believe how well the teachers put the kids' program together.  It was definitely one of the best preschool Christmas programs I've seen!  Great job, Olivia!  To celebrate, we enjoyed Christmas cookies after the performance.