End of Illinois Trip and New Year’s Eve

Story told by: Brody

The days after Christmas were filled with lots more fun!

One of Henry’s new games he received was “Rhino Hero Super Battle.” We love it!

By noon on the day after Christmas, I’d already played my new game, “Yeti in My Spaghetti,” at least 30 times. Here I talked Gpa into playing it with me.

Everyone gathered in the kitchen for pie before we had to head back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Thanks to Gma and Gpa for hosting this busy, loud crew for Christmas!!

On our trip back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, we had a bathroom break where Henry found a head warmer.

Graham (and the rest of his family) came back with us for an extra day!

Before we left for Illinois, our neighbor gave us some fun “Elfie Selfie” items, so the adults made sure to put them to use after the kids went to bed.

The adults also played Heads Up.

After Graham and Hazel had to leave the next morning, I did some coloring with Uncle Jar Jar.

But I was a little opinionated on which crayon he would get.

It was a really rainy day, so we went to Jumping Jax to burn off some energy.

Next we came home to watch “Prancer” together. Henry and I wanted to watch a different movie, but Lainey enjoyed it.

Lainey especially enjoyed Grandma and Grandpa’s pets.

We had been requesting Chuck E. Cheese all trip, and it was finally time! Uncle Jar Jar and Aunt Ericka got to join us. (This face is my “it’s almost show time” face. No one understood it. I didn’t really either.)

After we ate our pizza, it was time for games! We each picked game helpers. Lainey picked Uncle Jar Jar and Aunt Ericka.

I picked Grandpa.

And Henry picked Daddy. It was a successful night!

On Friday morning, it was BOWL GAME DAY for the Cougs!!

We made sure to represent!

That morning Mommy and Grandma got to slip away for coffee and a Yankee Candle shopping date.

Then everyone went to a Chinese buffet for lunch. Henry said, “I just want to stay here all day and eat until it’s dark.” He and Daddy are definitely cut from the same cloth.

Mommy couldn’t stop laughing at my fortune. “You constantly struggle for self improvement – and it shows.” She thinks it’s pretty perfect for a three-year-old.

Hand-in-hand with Uncle Jar Jar.

After lunch we all went bowling.

I was insistent that I wasn’t going to roll the ball down the ramp. I wanted to be a big boy.

After a close competition, Uncle Jar Jar won and Grandpa came in second place.

Grandma and Grandpa have the best big bath tub, so we had a bubble bath in it on Friday night.

The bowl game started after our bed time. And the Cougs won!!!!! That gives the Cougs an 11-2 record, which is the best in school history. Such a fun, memorable season. Go Cougs!!

On Saturday, we sadly had to head home. It was such a fun vacation!! We can’t wait to see Grandma and Grandpa again in April!

We flew from Chicago to Salt Lake. This layover was three hours, and it didn’t start until 7:30 p.m. So we all got giant ice cream cones simply for something to do and keep us happy!

Then our plane was delayed from a departure of 10:15 p.m. to a departure of 11:30 p.m. This was the face of every single parent in the airport that late at night.

While waiting to board  in Salt Lake, Mommy and Daddy came up with the Freeze game. But I lost immediately.

We arrived in Spokane at 12:30 a.m. I was sound asleep, so Mommy had to carry me. Lainey and Henry weren’t far off.

Fortunately we had already booked a hotel room near the airport, so we crashed there for the night, and woke up to swim in the pool the next morning.

Then we checked out a yummy restaurant for breakfast!

Grandma and Grandpa bought Mommy a new ottoman for Christmas, but they had it shipped to some local friends. They delivered it to Mommy on Sunday evening, and she loves it!

Daddy went to work on Monday (New Year’s Eve), but the rest of us stayed in pajamas all day. We did a hot cocoa craft, and naturally had to have real hot cocoa with it.

We played some of our new games during the day.

One of Lainey’s new favorite games is “Sleeping Queens.” It’s really fun!

Once Daddy got home, we started our New Year’s Eve tradition of games!

At the top of each hour, we would play a new game. Our 5:00 game was “Sleeping Queens.”

Then we ate a yummy dinner of snack food/appetizers!

Our 6:00 games was “Sequence for Kids.”

After that, we had a tower-building competition.

It was declared that Lainey was the winner, but we later realized that Henry and Lainey had actuallly tied!

Our 7:00 game was “Rhino Hero Super Battle.”

Daddy and I were on a team together.

Next up, some intense dance parties.

Our 8:00 game was “Yeti in My Spaghetti.”

After that, we went downstairs to get ready for our countdown to the new year (which for us was going to be 9:00 p.m.). I couldn’t quite make it.

But Lainey and Henry did!!

After we went to bed, Mommy and Daddy poured themselves some wine and played games!

“Ticket to Ride” is one of their favorites! Happy New Year!!

Christmas, 2018

Story told by: Henry

Christmas was fantastic!! We woke up at 5:30 and immediately said, “Happy Birthday, Jesus! Did Santa come?”

Santa did come, and he brought some great presents!

As is tradition in Quincy, we had to wait on the stairs until everyone was ready. (Mommy and Daddy made us wait until 6:30 before we woke all the adults.)

When we came down, we first checked out the letter Santa had written to us thanking us for the cookies. He loved them!

Then we were allowed down to see the big-wish item Santa had brought for us.

EXACTLY what we wanted!! A car wash car track for me, a “loopty-loop” car track for Brody, and a watch for Lainey.

So cool that Santa took a selfie on Lainey’s watch!

Next up, stockings!

Mommy was pleasantly surprised to find these in her stocking!

And now the kids got to take turns opening presents.

This was one of my favorite presents from Mommy and Daddy!

Brody got multiple games for Christmas because he loves them so much!

I got a couple of awesome LEGO sets. I can’t wait to put them together!

Brody and I got some awesome St. Louis Cardinals robots from Grandma and Grandpa.

Gift cards from Uncle Juncle!

Lainey explaining her new toy to Gma and Gpa.

Perler Bead Batman!

Lots of LEGOs this Christmas.

We took a break once the breakfast casserole was ready. I can’t eat it because of the eggs, and Brody doesn’t like it, so we got some yummy sugary cereal. We were very happy with this choice.

This is Lainey’s favorite breakfast ever (and Mommy has to agree)!

Lainey took a break to make her magical LOL SURPRISE dolls appear in water.

Gpa helped me to transform my transformer. Mommy didn’t know that she bought the advanced transformer for me, and it requires 21 steps to transform. (After four adults had a hand in transforming it, they finally figured out how to transform it long after I went to bed on Christmas night.)

We opened one last present from Grandma and Grandpa. New scooters!! We were all SO excited!

Time for adult presents. Lainey used her allowance money to buy all of us presents. That was really sweet of her.

Uncle Juncle got an awesome Coug sign for Mommy and Daddy!

Mommy surprised Daddy with tickets to see his favorite band, Switchfoot, in April.

After present opening was done, we got outside to enjoy the great weather! Brody used his new walkie talkies.

We spent a lot of time racing our scooters. To Mommy, it looked much easier than it was.

In the afternoon, Uncle Matt and his family arrived. Here is Mommy with all three of her younger brothers.

We loved having cousins there. Hazel (age two) and I were good buddies immediately.

Henry and Graham (age six) were good buddies as well!

Gpa took everyone on a tractor ride again!

Then it was time for the Steck family to open presents.

Back outside for more scooter races!

Cousin picture!

Next up, Lainey had a fantastic idea for an afternoon variety show. She roped Grandpa in as MC and lined up seating for everyone. We all ended up loving this so much!

I provided the intermission entertainment.

And we ended with a finale! This variety show was easily Mommy’s favorite part of the day.

Then Lainey and Hazel had some nail painting time with Grandma.

Brody got to try one of his new games, Yeti in My Spaghetti.

And we ended the night with a flashlight tractor ride.

Such a fantastic Christmas!!

Christmas Eve (and a few days before)

Story told by: Lainey

We had a fantastic Christmas! I’m a little behind on posts, so I’ll catch you guys up over the next few days.

Right after I finished school on the Friday before Christmas, we drove up to Spokane to stay in a hotel so we could catch an early flight.

We woke up at 3:30 in order to be boarding the plane by 5:30.

Brody fell asleep on our flight to Minneapolis.

We found a festive Snoopy in the Minneapolis Airport while waiting for our connecting flight.

On the flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, Henry volunteered to sit by a stranger. He was actually pretty excited about it.

Unfortunately on the flight to Minneapolis I threw up everywhere. Fortunately Mommy had a change of clothes for me, so I was able to change. Here is a picture of me sleeping from Minneapolis to Chicago with a vomit bag in hand. I wasn’t feeling well all morning, and since I only threw up that one time, Mommy thinks I was just nauseous from getting up so early. (This used to happy to Mommy all the time as a kid when waking up early for flights.) After this nap, I woke up feeling MUCH better!

Henry was relieved to finally arrive in Chicago!

Grandma and Grandpa drove us two hours to their house, we loaded up both cars with Christmas presents, and then we drove another three hours to Gma and Gpa’s house in Quincy.

We arrived at Gma’s house at 10 p.m., and she had cookies and ice cream waiting for us!

Early on Sunday morning, Henry pulled out Trouble to play with Grandpa and Brody. Henry and Grandpa must have played at least 15 games of Trouble over the course of this vacation.

That afternoon, we went to see “Mary Poppins Returns.” Mommy was so amazed at the ticket prices, she had to take a picture. Super inexpensive!

While flying the day before, Mommy and Daddy invented a game called “World’s Best Traveler.” We all ended up receiving the same amount of points. Our reward was getting to pick out candy AND popcorn at the movie theater. We were pumped!

The whole crew! (Mommy’s cousin Ryan is sitting in the middle of us, and Gpa, Gma, and Mommy’s Aunt Lori are behind us.) It was such a fun movie!

Since Mommy had shipped most of our presents via Amazon, these ladies had a marathon wrapping session that afternoon.

While they were wrapping, Gpa took us on a tractor ride.

So much fun!

We ended the night with a Christmas movie.

Brody got to snuggle with Grandma.

Mommy got a back rub from Grandpa.

And then I got some snuggles in.

After the kids went to bed, the adults played Mexican Train.

And then Daddy showed off his Etch A Sketch skills.

Elf traveled to Ilinois (and I made him this handy house), so we woke up on Christmas Eve to this fun message from him.

While Mommy, Grandma, and Gma did some Christmas Eve food prep, Daddy and Grandpa took us to the mall to this climbing structure and an arcade.

While we were at the mall, Uncle Jar Jar and Uncle Juncle (our newly-picked name for Uncle Jeff) arrived.

When we got back from playing, I put Uncle Juncle to the test with Kanoodle.

The weather was in the upper 40’s/low 50’s, so we were able to get outside and have some fun.

Then Grandpa took us on another tractor ride.

Gma had eight dozen cookies for us to decorate, so we had to get to work.

Uncle Juncle and Henry worked together.

Uncle Jar Jar did all the frosting.

Daddy was Brody’s helper.

Uncle Jar Jar shoved my face into a cookie. He’s so silly.

Brody went heavy on the sprinkles.

Next I tried to stump Uncle Jar Jar with Kanoodle.

In the late afternoon, Mommy’s friend, Courtney, surprised her by stopping by! Such a treat!! Courtney used to live right next door to Gma and Gpa (her parents still live there), and they would play together when they were little girls every weekend Mommy visited Gma and Gpa’s house. Courtney now has two twin girls (they’re two years old), so it was great to meet them. Thank you for stopping by for a visit!

Then it was time to get ready for Christmas Eve church service! Brody looked extra handsome.

All of us in our Christmas best.

At Gma and Gpa’s church.

After we got home, we found that Santa had left us two presents to open on Christmas Eve! He must have snuck in while we were gone!

He brought us new PJs and Christmas books!

We always do our big dinner on Christmas Eve, so we next enjoyed ham, rolls, potatoes, green bean casserole, and much more!

And after the ladies of the house messed up their attempt to adapt a stuffing recipe to the crockpot, we also enjoyed stuffing soup.

While the adults finished their dinner, I helped the boys change into their new PJs.

And then I brainstormed a fun parade for them to enjoy while they ate their pie.

We read our new Christmas books with Daddy.

And before going to bed, left out cookies and milk for Santa. We were SOOOOOO excited!!

After we were sound asleep and all things were taken care of/assembled (whatever that might mean), Mommy and Daddy got to enjoy some time in the hot tub. We can’t wait for the morning!!!

The Magic of Christmas (Part III)

Story told by: Lainey

We’ve had another great week of Christmas celebrations!!

Brody made a present for Mommy and Daddy at preschool. But instead of wanting to give it to Mommy, Brody argued the whole way home about how he made the present for himself. After arguing with him for 25 minutes, Mommy finally called Brody’s preschool teacher so she could settle this debate. And Mommy won. (Thank goodness for forced gift giving.)

Mommy and Henry went on a date last week. His first request was to get a Happy Meal.

And then he was thrilled when Mommy suggested they go play arcade games at Zeppoz. The games were Henry’s favorite part, but Mommy’s favorite part was when Henry told her that she was his best friend in the whole wide world.

Mommy had a lunch with the preschool board and preschool staff on Friday. Henry ran around with Desmond and Elijah, but Lily and Brody had fun hanging out. As they were getting close to leaving, Brody said to Lily, “I’m going to miss you, but you’re my best friend.”

On Saturday morning, it was time for me and Mommy to have a date. I requested that we wear matching scarves for our girls’ day.

We played cards while we waited for our food to arrive.

Next we met friends for Canvas and Cocoa at Wild at Art.

We were given a little bit of instruction, and then we got to work.

My finished product! I really enjoyed doing this!

Me and Dez.

Me and Cece.

The whole crew! Such a fun morning that I definitely want to do again next year!

After painting, Mommy and I grabbed a quick lunch, and then did some Christmas shopping. (I brought my allowance to buy presents for the boys and Daddy.)

And no girls’ day is complete without a stop at Starbucks!

On Saturday night, Mommy got to go out with her friends!

They had a “Favorite Things” dinner. Each woman picked a favorite thing, and then brought three of those things. They gifted them to each other, so each woman went home with everyone’s favorite things. Such a fun night!

Liz demonstrating how she can use everything that was gifted all at the same time.

Some of Mommy’s closest friends right here!

On Sunday morning, we had our Christmas pageant at church. It was all about Jesus being our superhero, which was really fun! The boys were Hulk and Black Panther, and I got the coveted role of Mary! I was so excited!

Hulk could not have been more perfect for Henry.

They had some interviews with preschoolers in the church bulletin. The question asked was, “What does the Christmas star mean?” Brody’s response is above. Makes complete sense.

Here are some highlights where you can see me saying the lines I memorized, Henry acting out some parts, and all of us singing!

After the pageant was done, we spread out to enjoy the treats from our goody bags!

Yesterday afternoon we all joined in together to make some yummy treats!

Then we put on pajamas, piled in the car, ate candy canes, and drove around to look at Christmas lights and deliver our Best in Show award.

These houses were some of our top choices.

This house was the winner from last year, but we made a rule that the same house can’t win twice in a row.

So we declared this house in Colton our winner!!

Unfortunately they weren’t home to receive our award, so we left it taped on their door. Thanks for some great Christmas decorations!

We ended the night with games, Christmas movies, and pizza.

Another fantastic weekend of Christmas activities!

The Magic of Christmas (Part II)

Story told by: Henry

We love this time of year!!

I’m making some great Christmas art at preschool.

On Thursday evening we did one of our favorite traditions – the live drive-thru nativity. We traveled to Bethlehem as if we were on the same path as Mary and Joseph. We had hot chocolate in hand, and loved it. Well, everyone except Brody loved. Brody kept yelling that he didn’t want to go to Bethlehem.

On Friday evening, Mommy and Daddy went out with friends while we watched Christmas movies and ate popcorn!

On Saturday morning we woke up to go to the candy cane hunt at church. We started with some fun crafts!

Brody with his favorite Chloe.

We each ate approximately five pounds of fruit loops in the making of this craft.

Lainey and Ani

Sarah managed to sneak into this one.

Lainey was in the big kid group for the first time.

Lined up waiting for things to start. We were told there were a few special plastic candy canes hidden, and if we found one of those, we get a special prize. And I was determined to find one!!

Go time for our group!

Big kids were next!

And Mommy and Daddy enjoyed this whole event by gloriously standing on the sideline sipping coffee. A. MAZ. ING.

And check it out!! I found a special candy cane!

And so did Lainey! She exchanged it for this owl ornament.

Our bags were filled with candy canes!

When we got inside, I exchanged my plastic candy cane for this candy-filled prize!

We got to do a fun cupcake walk.

Lainey and Brody spent some time reading books to Paul.

On Saturday evening, we stayed with Ashley while Mommy and Daddy went out with some of the teachers Mommy used to teach with at Sunnyside. They’ve been doing this Christmas dinner for nine or ten years (they can’t remember exact dates)!

On Sunday evening we had our big church Christmas dinner!

Miss Kassidy, our amazing Sunday School teacher, made us a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake and let us sing “Happy Birthday.”

And guess what?! She made it without eggs so I could eat it, too!

I worked on this balloon for at least 20 minutes. Mommy thought I may pass out, so before I did, she made sure to get a picture.

Miss Kassidy also brought stuff for us to paint ornaments.

The real faces of moms who made it through a wonderful Christmas dinner, but also battled paint, balloon fights, bathroom accidents, and spilled food.

The night did end, though, with some great caroling!

On Monday morning we woke up to a surprise from Elf – Polar Express Night!!

But first I got to go to preschool and build snowmen with my class.

And then in the evening, it was “Polar Express” time!

Mommy was our conductor.

She punched our tickets!

“B” is a little challenging.

We ate a yummy dinner and enjoyed the start of the movie.

When we got to the part where the waiters come to serve treats, we ran upstairs to get our own treats.

Elf brought us these giant marshmallows. Yum!!

Daddy made it home in time for treats and the last 30 minutes of the movie!

On Tuesday, Brody and I got to crush up spices because kids in Slovakia use these spices to make honey and spice cookies.

We used these spices to add to a mixture that made our house smell great!

And then I really, really wanted to make honey and spice cookies, so Mommy just had to say yes!

They were delicious!

We brought them into our classes to share.

We also made ornaments at preschool. Can you tell that I’m loving art lately and want to take my time? Brody, well, he kind of does what he wants.

Mommy got to have her annual book club Christmas book exchange a couple of days ago.

Last night we got to go Christmas caroling with Awana.

I stuck with Weston (although Mommy didn’t get a picture), and Lainey stuck with Niki and Cece.

It was a lot of fun to sing to the community!

After about 45 minutes of singing, we went back to the Awana building for hot cocoa, cookie decorating, and games. Such a fun night!!

The Magic of Christmas

Story told by: Lainey

We are LOVING everything to do with the Christmas season these past few days!

We had a last-minute Christmas party last Thursday! All of us kids got to eat lots of junk food and watch a Christmas movie in our pajamas.

Mommy bought two of the biggest pizzas we’ve ever seen.

The adults mostly ignored us all night long while they ate junk food and drank slightly too much.

Laughing until you cry feels so good. What an amazing group of friends we have!

Henry’s class was excited to celebrate the first snow during preschool hours!

They got to examine the snowflakes as they fell.

Because Mrs. O’Loughlin is amazing she let all of the preschoolers have hot cocoa after coming inside.

We were bummed last Friday when there wasn’t enough snow for a snowman, so we did a fun snowman craft instead.

But we woke up on Saturday to surprise snow that wasn’t in the forecast! So we were outside by 6:45 a.m.

And the best part for Mommy and Daddy? For the first time EVER!! they got to stay warm inside, drinking coffee while we played in the backyard. A win-win for everyone!

Brody has been playing “Santa Baby” nonstop in our house.

The boys’ preschool had a Parent Night Out on Saturday evening, so Mommy and Daddy got to spend some great one-on-one time together while we had pizza, played games, and did crafts.

Easily my most favorite thing of the past few days is when Santa came to our house so I could interview him for my podcast.

Mommy knows Mrs. Claus, so she arranged for me to call him last weekend to invite him to my house. I’m aware that the Santas you might see in the mall are helper Santas, but while talking to this Santa last weekend, I asked him if he knew where I lived. When he responded with, “Of course,” I immediately said, “HE’S THE REAL ONE!!!”

The boys went downstairs with Daddy while I asked Santa questions about reindeer (which is the topic of this bonus episode).

This episode of “Learning with Lainey” will be released later this month!

What I was most curious about was how he would get to and from my house. And now I know!

On Sunday evening, we had Advent Craft Night at our church. The boys were hesitant to craft at first, but eventually got in to it.

I was really excited to make matching jingle bell necklaces for me and Mommy.

On Monday we woke up to Elf announcing that night would be Grinch Night. We were so excited!!

While we had no snow in Colton, Henry and his buddy, Rowan, were thrilled to find snow in Pullman at preschool!

For Grinch Night, Mommy made Grinch kabobs.

We also got green milk, who hash, and roast beast.

We had mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.

And had a yummy Grinch mix for dessert number two while we watched the original Grinch cartoon.

This is one of our favorite traditions!

Brody got to enjoy hot chocolate in preschool today!

And then this evening was “Bring a Friend to Dance Night” where we got to wear Christmas jammies. Paige got to join me for this fun event!

My whole class and their buddies.

After a quick dinner of Happy Meals, we changed our clothes and went up to WSU to meet Santa and Santa Butch.

While we waited for them to arrive, we wrote letters to Santa.

We were at the front of the line to meet Santa. Brody told him that he wanted a “loopy loop” Hot Wheels track, Henry wants a Hot Wheels car wash, and I told Santa that I would like a watch.

Then we got to go see Santa Butch.

Paige brought her football for Butch and Santa to sign!

Then we went upstairs to decorate cookies and do crafts.

Mommy dug a Kit Kat bar out of her purse for Henry to decorate.

Such a fun night!