We loaded up the kids back on the first weekend of December and took a roadtrip up to Duluth.
We had a few reasons:
1. We had a new member of the family and we couldn't wait to meet her. Willow Noel was born November 23 and we couldn't wait to introduce ourselves. I also had the privilege of snapping a few newborn pics of the girlie and that was just way. too. fun. (I've forgotten how much I have missed using that creative side of myself)
2. So as not to be toooo overwhelming (we are a 3-ring circus at times) to a family who is just trying to find their new normal, we decided to get out of their hair and check out Bentleyville. It was a Saturday night at around 7:30 and we did NOT take this into consideration. There were so many people, you had to shuffle along like a herd of cattle. The weather was pretty chilly, but we dressed nice and warm...however the hot chocolate was a welcome sight to the kids. Well, that and the free cookies. :)
Lift Bridge all lit up
Family Pic Take 1...hmmmm, missing Cora's face and I look completely weird.
Family Pic Take 2...Cora is missing all together...but at least my mouth is closed.
Family Pic Take 3....Whew...found Cora finally...sigh....sooooo blurry.
Family Pic Take 4...Lost the dog-gone kid again. And Hattie is a blur.
There were about 5 more, but I'll spare you the torture.
We loaded up and headed to Bloomington a few weeks back for a field trip. Ben had the day off of school so I was able to bring all 5 kiddos with me. But since I'm no dummy, I also enlisted the help of Grammie.
The Works Museum was running a Christmas special for membership...which only cost $1 more for an entire year then if I just paid for daily admission for all of us. So clearly, you can guess which option I chose.
We brought along a packed lunch and ate in their lunchroom. It's amazing how much better a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes when you are on a field trip than when you are home scrounging around the empty fridge.
We got to play with a whole bunch of stuff and see how they worked. From motion sensors to programmable bots to kinex creations. The kids loved the bricks too and since we were 1 of only 2 families in there by day's end, we had them all to ourselves.
Ella and I are standing flat-footed...we built that puppy up as tall as she could go...
The static electricity seemed to looooovveee Hattie.
I'm a few days late in posting, but I figure since it's because I was spending time with family enjoying the holiday that I should be forgiven. :)
We had an awesome Christmas Eve this year. It was our time to just be together as a family of 7 and it was a blast! We started off our morning with our own little tradition...we always have Toaster Strudel for Christmas breakfast. I'm not exactly sure how this one got started, but everyone looks forward to them. Besides, who doesn't like a pastry hot out of the toaster smothered in frosting?
Christmas Eve service was at 3 so we changed out of our jammies mere minutes before leaving and enjoyed a packed service. Pastor Nate made the story come alive by involving the audience and it's amazing to see how the kids have retold it over and over. What a great way to get kids into it and engaged.
After the service, we spent the next 2.5 hours making all the appetizers. Every year I think "Next year...we need to make something different...because this takes forever to make all these things!!" BUT the kids love it so much that I always cave and go through the craziness all over again the next year. And now...well...now we can't depart from tradition so I guess it's here to stay.
Appetizer Menu 2016:
Sesame crackers with goat cheese
Buffalo chicken ring
Fruit with marshmallow dip (pineapple, strawberries, and bananas)
Artichoke dip with wheat thins
Antipasto skewers (salami, fresh mozzarella, and grape tomato)
Curried chicken salad
Following supper and clean-up, we got out the advent calendar and finished it up. This year Ella had a lego advent calendar so we did our traditional one as well as the lego one. Everyone had so much fun with them. And Hattie even got to put Baby Jesus in the manger this year. It was Ben's turn, but with a wave of sweetness, he offered it up to Hattie.
Here is a little sampling of the kids. We (I mean "me") *may* have lost our minds and bought Hattie a giant teddy bear. I'm certain I will regret this for many years to come.
Everyone seems to like it. It gets hauled all over the house.
This is a hat handmade by Lily for Hattie. Lily was super proud of her accomplishment, Hattie loved it, and I was blown away at how much she resembles Jason's preschool age pics.
Christmas Day morning was spent at Nana's house. We arrived to a brunch ready to be eaten, lots of presents, and Christmas cookies. Christmas mornings are always so rushed and never seem to last long enough before it's time to go.
The kids are in kids choir at church this year...and are loving it. They sing in church one Sunday a month and let me tell you, there are two parents in the audience beaming with pride. It is so fun to experience the joy of watching your children up in front, either praising Jesus or being part of a Christmas musical.
The musical this year was called We Three Spies. Both Ben and Ella had speaking parts and Lily and Cora each had choreography to a special song. We invited the grandparents and sat and enjoyed watching the show. Ella was Special Agent Z, Ben was a narrator, and Lily and Cora helped boost up the choir power.
We are already looking forward to January when practice starts for the spring musical!!
1. We had a quick visit up north this past weekend. Without Mom and Dad living up there anymore, it's getting harder and harder to make the trip. I love not having to be in the car for 5+ hours as that was pretty much pure misery with 5 kids, but I really miss my extended family. As families grow and get busier with their kids (us included), it's harder to steal away and go off visiting. I knew I needed to see Amma before Christmas and my heart ached to see everyone else as well. We set out on Thursday right after Ben got out of school. I had the van packed and movies at-the-ready. A quick stop at Mom's to pick her up and we were on our way. We stayed at Whit's house which is becoming a fast favorite. All the kids play so well together and I can't imagine a place that feels any more homey than hers. It's a welcoming home for sure.
2. This week is getting the better of me...I have once again disappointed the planner in me and am scrambling to get all the presents and food prepped for Christmas Eve. We are spending it at home with the kids, enjoying some family time together. Christmas Day will be at Nana's and then Grammie and Papa will be hosting Christmas on December 30 since Jamie and Jordan will both be home for the holidays. Some day I hope Christmas will slow down, but at least this year we get Christmas Eve...and I'm so thankful for that.
3. Mom invited me to the Ladies Christmas Brunch at River of Life a few weeks back. It is becoming a tradition (our second annual one) and one that I look forward to each year. Last year Jill was there too, but since Willow was born just a week before, we are giving her a pass this year. The brunch is so fun and relaxing. The men of the church serve the meal and wait on you. Dad was our personal waiter, bringing us tea and anything else we would ask for. They also have vendor tables set up all around the perimeter of the room so there is even a little shopping to be had. It was lovely and I really enjoyed getting my mom all to myself for a morning. Disclaimer: don't mind the hair sticking up off the top of my head. It was like that all morning and I've had to just get over it...so you will too. :)
4. When you have been diagnosed with CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome) and are forced to carry throw-up bags in your vehicle...at least your little one can make the best of the situation. Apparently these bags also make great foot warmers. Just thinking now that I better make sure that she didn't put a hole in the bag, or we are going to be in for a fantastic surprise when we really need it for it's intended purpose.
5. This weekend was bitter cold. No...frigid cold. Hmmmm.....nasty cold? Sigh. It was ridiculous. No...it was beyond ridiculous. We bottomed out at -22 degrees and that was just the actual temperature. With the wind chill figured in, it was a balmy -40+. You couldn't even get out to pump gas without your skin literally hurting and your nose freezing up. I know this because I was forced to stop for gas. Honestly, if our weather were normally like this, I would be packing our house up and looking for a new destination. I hate winter. Did I just say "hate"??!!? Yep....sure did. I don't even like it when it's 20 degrees outside...but -40 just makes me plain ol' cranky. I long for summer already.