Here is a blog to keep family and friends up to date on our various comings and goings. Check back weekly for updates, and feel free to leave comments!

Monday, January 09, 2017

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Christmas festivities begin the night of Thanksgiving when we visit the Festival of Trees, and it ends on New Years at a party.  What a fun, crazy, busy season it was!

First was our annual visit to the Festival of Trees, where the kids pose with Santa (a bit of threatening on my part was needed for this picture), eat gingerbread cookies, ride the train, and vote on their favorite tree.

We added a new activity to our Christmas season - bell ringing for the Salvation Army.  Our two hour shift raised $272, and the kids hopefully learned about the importance of volunteering for charity.

Another new (to us) activity that we participated in was the Springfield Christmas parade.  I will admit that we were not expecting to see santa, the Batmobile, the Statue of Liberty, and not one but two elephant statue floats - one of which had a guy playing rock Christmas carols inside of the elephant!  Only in Springfield.

Another big event for us this month was attending Olivia's student of the month breakfast.  She was nominated by her history teacher.  We are so proud of her!

We once again went to Bomke's Tree Farm to pick out our Christmas tree.  Luckily it was less muddy and warmer this year!  Our tree ended up being about 10 feet tall.  You know that you have picked out a big tree when the guy who cuts it down for you comments on how large of a tree we selected and that the guys who bundle it up will not be happy with the size!

While the fresh Christmas tree (which was placed upstairs in a front window) was opening up, we decorated our Star Wars tree and Star Wars Christmas village.  Yes, we have both of those.  And while they are kept in the basement, these tend to be the more popular Christmas items that we own.

Posing in front of the "official" family tree.  We always have large, fresh trees.  But this one gave us doubt on continuing with fresh trees!  It fell over not once, but twice, while Joe and I put it up into the tree stand (and that was with Joe literally standing inside the tree holding on for dear life!).  Let's just say that Ethan learned a lot of new phrases!  We later figured out that the problems were probably that the tree itself was crooked - when I was guiding Joe to straighten out the tree, it would topple over since the trunk curved, and the wood seemed to be very soft so the tree stand spikes couldn't properly anchor it.  Luckily, once we got it into the stand, it did not fall over again.  But the running theme was "don't touch the tree" when anyone would go near it!

Our annual gingerbread village.  Ethan decided that it was infested with bugs, so after we decorated our houses, he spread insect sprinkles all over the scene.  We just went with this theory of his.

Ethan played the "Innkeeper" in our church Christmas program.  He did a great job!  (unfortunately, Olivia aged out of the program last year).

Cutting out sugar cookies.  Olivia did a great job rolling out the dough this year.  Our unusual cookie shape (along with all of the normal holiday shapes) this year was a dinosaur.

Our cookies - everyone did a great job!  The non-traditional decorating highlights this year included Dr. Teeth, the  Eye of Sauron, Barbara Streisand, Lisa Simpson, a pineapple, a Taco Bell Doritos Locos taco, the Loch Ness monster, an X-Wing, a minion, and a fireplace (made from a dinosaur shape).

Ready for Christmas!

We spent Christmas Eve day with Joe's mom.  Grammy enjoyed introducing the kids to bagna calda - yum!

Holiday jam session with cousins Lula and Baylor.

We spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas day at my parents' home.  The kids still wrote letters to Santa and left cookies, chex mix, carrots, and milk for Santa and the reindeer.

Santa came!

The calm before the present opening starts.

So what started as a joke last year, was asked (in a tween sort of way) by Olivia to be continued this year.  I think we will need  new PJs next year - Ethan outgrew his!

Presents from each other were a success.

No tween eye rolls here!  The laptop was a success!

Ethan with his Christmas haul.

New Years fondue lunch!  Joe worked the late shift on New Years, so we held our annual fondue dinner at lunch instead.  

Pretzel bread in cheese fondue - soooo good!

Chocolate fondue with lots of food to dip in.

Luckily Joe was off work at 11pm on New Years, so we were able to ring in the new year together (at a friend's house).  Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hamilton's Chicago

In early November we had a long weekend in Chicago to see the musical "Hamilton".  Joe and I had seen this musical with the original cast in NYC, but the kids had not seen it.  To say that our family is obsessed with this musical is a bit of an understatement.  We quote "Hamilton" on a daily basis.  This kids insisted on many pictures to remember this.

Recreating our NYC picture.

The set of "Hamilton".  Our seats for this performance (about the 10th row) were much better than what we had in NYC (2nd row from the top).  

After the musical, we walked to Macy's to see their Christmas windows.  Yes, Christmas windows in short sleeves in Chicago.  Crazy weather.

And how can you go to Chicago without getting Chicago style pizza?  This is at Giordano's.  

Swimming in the hotel pool - the kids do get along at times!

The next day we visited the Field Museum.  It had been years since we had last gone.

They Egyptian exhibit did not scare the kids this time!

Having fun in the underground adventure.

Learning about Native Americans and totem poles.

Everyone must get a picture with Sue the T-Rex!

A big reason for us attending the Field Museum - to see the Terra Cotta Warriors from China.  This exhibit was excellent - so many Warriors were exhibited, and we learned a lot about them.

Ethan with his favorite animal.

Ready for the 4D Galapagos Island movie - it was excellent.