Christmas, 2016

Story told by: Lainey

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!! It’s finally here!

Once we woke up, we had to wait for the other adults to rouse themselves from their slumber, so we snacked on cereal and listened to Daddy read the story of Jesus’ birth. What a perfect way to start Christmas!

It was getting very close to time to head downstairs to see the presents. I put on my fanciest shoes for the occasion.

The traditional “kids on the stairs” picture.

The tree filled with presents for fourteen people. Beautiful!

We started by playing with our one unopened present from Santa. The big guy didn’t disappoint! He got the doll I requested in the catalog!!

I’m so excited! Her name was “Willa” in the catalog, but I’ve decided to name her “Frosty.”

Brody got an awesome doctor kit!

Henry got a tool bench!

This present was a huge hit with all three of us!

Next we opened our stockings!

My stocking was filled with crayons, new underwear, candy, and hair bows.

Henry’s stocking was filled with crayons, candy, new underwear (for potty training in January), and Paw Patrol slippers.

He put those slippers on right away!

Brody got some cool new band-aids in his stocking.

And Mommy got an awesome dish towel in her stocking.

The Elf watched over our stocking opening in his new PJs.

Then it was time to start opening presents! The kids went first.

Even though the kids were in the midst of opening presents, I couldn’t wait any longer for Grandpa to open my present to him. Grandpa LOVES “The Little Drummer Boy,” so I insisted that I pick out a CD for him with that song on it. He loved it!

Brody wasn’t big on opening presents this year, but he did open a couple of them (and then Henry and I finished opening the rest for him).

Henry got tons of Paw Patrol stuff this year!

Brody loves to pretend to vacuum with Mommy, so now he has a vacuum to match Mommy’s vacuum.

Mommy, Daddy, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Jar Jar! When there are this many people opening presents, sometimes you have to take breaks for food and to stretch your legs.

PJs all day on Christmas. Perfect!

Tickles with Grandma.

Mommy opened this purse from Daddy, and she was a little speechless because….well, ummmm…..it has quite a unique look to it.

Fortunately Daddy had this note hidden in the purse. He’s sure a joker (and a sweetheart).

Daddy got an Amazon Echo! This guy loves a new gadget to play with.

Many, many, many cookies were consumed throughout the day.

Silly pictures with Mommy while the adults continue opening presents.

I also insisted that Daddy desperately needed new slippers, so Mommy and I went searching for a nice pair for him. He was thrilled with these!

After presents were done, we spent the rest of the day playing, eating, and sleeping. The best!!!

Both of these costumes were presents for Henry, but I managed to slip into the Spiderman costume.

We spent the afternoon watching “Beauty and the Beast.”

Gma found a really cool puzzle with some big pieces for kids, and small pieces for adults. So we worked on putting the big kid pieces together.

Mommy got the Lolz Game, and it was HILARIOUS! The adults had so much fun playing this!

After the kids went to bed (without much of a fight because we were exhausted), some of the adults went out to the hot tub. It felt wonderful!

Mommy, Gma, Grandma, Brittany, and Aunt Lori worked for the rest of the night on finishing this Christmas puzzle.

Gpa and Grandma serenaded everyone while working on the puzzle. A perfect way to end Christmas!

We had to leave Quincy the next day to drive back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Uncle Jeff had to fly back to Phoenix today as well, so we made sure to get extra time in with him.

I spent time coloring with Gma.

After Gpa spent all morning outside taking us on a tractor ride, flying a kite with us, and going on a nature treasure hunt, he spent time reading with us. He’s a great Gpa!

Thanks to Gma and Gpa for hosting this crazy crew! We love you very much, and had such a wonderful Christmas at your house!

Christmas Eve, 2016

Story told by: Henry

It’s Christmas Eve! Santa comes tonight, and we can’t wait!!

We woke up at Gma and Gpa’s house to find that Elf had found an awesome new jacket. So funny!

Gpa took us out for a ride with his tractor.

Mommy has memories of doing this as a kid, so it was fun for her to watch us!

I wanted to ride a bike, and everyone knows that bikes are safest while wearing a catcher’s helmet.

Next up was decorating those sugar cookies we spent hours baking!

Mommy’s cousin, Brittany, was a big decorating helper!

Lainey made a special cookie for Gma.

Gma loved it!

The cookie crew!

Mommy and Uncle Jar Jar! (Uncle Jar Jar and Uncle Jeff just flew in from Phoenix.)

Lainey was happy to have a coloring buddy.

After naps, we put our church clothes on and got ready for Christmas Eve service.

Brody’s general theme at this age is “I don’t want to cooperate.”

Uncle Jar Jar couldn’t fit church clothes in his bag, so he wore Gma’s sweater to church.

We arrived about 20 minutes early to church, so we went to check out the fire trucks at a nearby fire station.

Almost time for church!

I rotated between laps for most of the service.

Then it was time for the candlelight part of the service. Lainey was big enough to hold the candle on her own.

I’m sure I would have been fine with an open flame on my own, but everyone seemed to think that I needed some supervision by Uncle Jeff and Uncle Jar Jar.

After church Brittany helped us to make reindeer food to sprinkle outside for Santa’s reindeer.

The reindeer need LOTS of sprinkles!

I poured at least half of this container into the bag.

After we mixed the bag up, Brittany took us outside to sprinkle the food in the grass. I hope the reindeer enjoyed it!

We always do our big dinner on Christmas Eve, so once the food was ready, we all dug in!

Brody mostly loved the rolls.

While we were at church, Santa must have delivered two early presents. We were very excited to find these!

I opened this present to find new PJs!

And new books!

While Lainey was having an epic Christmas Eve meltdown, we got some pictures of Brody and I in our matching PJs.

Then Lainey recovered and joined us for pictures.

Lainey drew a picture for Santa to leave with his milk and cookies.

Before going to bed, Daddy read us our new Christmas books.

Ready to head to sleep because Santa comes tonight!!!

The Start of Our Adventure

Story told by: Lainey

We started our trek to Illinois last week by staying a night in Ellensburg on our way to fly out of Seattle. (We wanted to avoid bad weather that was forecast to arrive, and thank goodness we left early because it hit hard with ice and snow a few hours after we left.)

It came to no surprise to us, though, when Brody refused to go to sleep. And cried in his pack ‘n play until 10 p.m. until Mommy finally pulled him in to bed with her. Which kicked Daddy out of bed to sleep with me. And then he woke us all up at 5 a.m. This kid is a creature of comfort and likes his own bed and his own bedroom.

The positive of getting up extra early is that we were on the road again by 7 a.m. Mommy and Daddy made sure to get GIANT coffees.

We made it to Na Na and Ba Ba’s house in Tacoma by 9:30 a.m. We opened early Christmas presents as soon as we arrived. Na Na made me a beautiful doll. I love it!

Ba Ba gave Daddy a climbing harness to use for his radio tower. Thank goodness Daddy will be safe now when he’s climbing high into the sky.

After naps we went to see Donder and Blitzen. They were resting up before Christmas Eve.

They were really fun to watch!

Early the next morning, Ba Ba took us to the airport. Daddy was a champ and carried car seats, luggage, and a child.

Henry and I were very excited to have the responsibility of our own backpacks filled with snacks and activities.

Ready to go!

Daddy and Henry sat across the aisle from us.

Brody, Mommy, and I all sat together. And boy oh boy, I wish I had been sitting with Daddy and Henry. Brody was good for the first 20 minutes or so of the flight, and then he went into full-blown temper tantrum mode for the next 3 1/2 hours. Not cool, Brody. Not cool.

After collecting the numerous items that Brody had thrown around the plane in a raging, crazy temper tantrum, we were the last people off the plane. And because we were the last people off, we had time for the pilot to invite us into the cockpit. So cool!!

He even let us sit in the seats. Look at all those buttons!

We were so excited to get off the plane and find Grandma! Grandpa had to work, so after a quick dinner at Cracker Barrel (one of Mommy’s favorites), we drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

We awoke early the next morning, and immediately put Grandma to work with playdough.

And then it was time to make sugar cookies!

We were very busy! We ended up with 90 cookies. That should last us for awhile!

While on a quick trip to the grocery store, Daddy found an exotic Midwest fruit. Mommy and Daddy still have no idea what this is!

We went to a cool brewery in Peoria that used to be a church, but has been converted into a restaurant. Really neat!

The next day we left Normal to drive to Gma and Gpa’s house in Quincy. After spending hours in the car, Grandpa was happy to play princesses with me.

Sledding!!

Story told by: Lainey

We have SO. MUCH. SNOW. We’re loving it!! Since Colton is a small town and has all of two cars on the streets at one time (okay, not really, but it’s close), we can sled right down the middle of the street.

Brody had a blast with his first time sledding!

Brody had the easy job of getting back up the hill.

Henry and I had some mishaps while sledding.

Mommy finally got on the sled with us to provide some steering control, and that made for lots of successful trips down the hill.

Daddy and Brody were a good sledding team as well! We love the snow!

A Night on the Polar Express, 2016

Story told by: Lainey

It’s time for our Polar Express night! We’ve been counting down to this night all week!

476

Elf surprised us this morning by building a train track.

479

And in his hands were our Polar Express train tickets.

We had a yummy Polar Express dinner of a hot dog train, train tracks (celery), snowmen (cheese sticks), and snowballs (doughnut holes).

The snowballs were my favorite!

After dinner we changed into our PJs and made sure to have our tickets in hand.

We headed downstairs to have Conductor Daddy punch our tickets.

Daddy did an “L” on my ticket.

We’re ready for the show to start!

We were all glued to the movie.

We each hung onto our tickets for most of the movie. No one wants to get kicked off the train!

When the waiters came out on the movie, we paused it to run upstairs to get hot chocolate.

We also got some delicious M&Ms. Brody was captivated by the train!

But occasionally stopped to give Mommy a “Are you done taking pictures yet?” look.

It was a great night on the Polar Express. We love this tradition!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Story told by: Lainey

We love this time of year!

The snow is falling, and more is on the way! We got out early one morning to “help” Daddy with shoveling. Someone’s gotta keep the sidewalks clear.

Henry loves eating the snow. LOVES it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s white snow or brown snow. It goes in his mouth. Gross. (Don’t worry. Mommy is working on handling this.)

Since the weather is so cold, we’re needing to get creative with how we entertain ourselves. Brody does so by emptying out every cabinet.

Mommy does so by drinking coffee and reading a book while we nap.

The other day Henry called Mommy over to see his line of cars. He said, “Mommy, look! The cars are lined up to get the coffees. They’re all getting ‘mericanos.” Mommy just might have a coffee problem.

Mommy had to take a quick trip for a funeral last weekend. While it was a sad weekend, she was very blessed to get to see some good friends, Alison and Christine, from college.

She also got to see Sarah for an early breakfast before she drove home. Sarah is due with a baby boy in January! These friends sure made Mommy smile.

Once Mommy got home from her trip, she surprised us all with chocolates. The kids got chocolate-covered marshmallows!

They were delicious!

I got to go to a Christmas craft party with a bunch of my friends. It was great! (Unfortunately Mommy missed the PJ memo. Oops.)

Here’s a fun snow picture Mrs. O’Loughlin took of Ivy and I at preschool. There wasn’t much snow, so as soon as it started snowing, we quickly ran outside to catch whatever snowflakes we could.

I made this ornament at preschool. After putting the colors in, I told Mrs. O’Loughlin that it looked like Coug colors, and that I wanted to write “Go Cougs” on it. Mommy and Daddy have never been more proud.

We went to see Santa Claus a few nights ago. After dance class, we went to McDonald’s for a quick dinner, and then we headed to see Santa!

I really want this American Girl doll, so I brought the magazine to show Santa to make sure he is very clear on the specific doll I’m requesting.

Showing Santa the picture. I think he paid very close attention.

And then Henry had a turn to tell Santa about the Paw Patrol toys he would like.

And then for the first time ever, we got all three of us happily sitting with Santa! It’s a true Christmas miracle!

We’ve been enjoying lots of Christmas crafts! We made these cute snowman last week.

We really enjoyed making this Santa and reindeer picture!

Brody ran out of patience for another handprint craft, so just Henry and I made these Rudolph pictures.

Brody did give us cute grins, though!

Last night we went to the live drive-through nativity at Living Faith Fellowship. Henry got to help Daddy drive the car, and he loved it!

Brody and I sat on Mommy’s lap.

Brody had never been in the front of the car, so he was mostly focused on the lights and gadgets. He didn’t really understand what was happening.

It was 15 degrees last night, so these people were such troopers!

At the end of our journey to Bethlehem, we found baby Jesus!

Henry is often Mommy’s shopping helper while I’m in preschool.

They stocked up on his allergy-free food while I was at preschool this morning!

As soon as we got home from preschool, we delayed nap time and went out to play in the snow!

Henry loved diving face first into the snow.

Brody spent a lot of time helping Mommy shovel.

And he also spent time playing peek-a-boo with Mommy.

After getting tired of shoveling, Brody set off into the winter wonderland all on his own.

See you later, Brody! Come back when you get too cold.

Grinch Night, 2016

Story told by: Henry

I was the first one awake this morning, and I came downstairs to find this message from Elf. It’s time for Grinch Night! (Daddy is out of town for work, so this is a fun way to pass the time. Good timing, Elf!)

After we got home from playing with friends and picking Lainey up from preschool, we read the book that Elf picked out for us. It really got us excited for our evening!

After naps and baths, it was time for our Grinch dinner! We had Grinch fruit kabobs (it’s a Grinch face wearing a Santa hat).

We had tator tots as our Who Hash.

And we had BBQ pork as our Roast Beast.

We finished our dinner with Who Pudding!

I was especially excited about this part of dinner. Who doesn’t love pudding and sprinkles?!

We could barely wait to get downstairs to watch the movie! While watching the movie we got to enjoy the M&Ms that Elf brought us this morning.

Since Elf brought us these treats and the movie idea, Lainey insisted that he should get to come downstairs and watch the movie with us. Hopefully he enjoyed it!

Yummy treats and a good movie made for a perfect night!