Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas!

 Merry late Christmas and a Happy New year to everyone!  I took very few pics on Christmas, was too busy opening presents and enjoying family.  I will put up what I do have eventually :)  In the meantime, these are some photos we took at the beginning of December.  We actually got the entire family from my grandparents down to our kids (their great grandkids) together for a big family group shot.  They were Christmas presents to both my grandmother and my mom to put up in their respective houses.  To the left there is a cute pic we caught of Kevin on Mike's shoulders.  I was to the right of them with Amanda on my shoulders, but she didn't feel stable and kept grabbing my neck (not making for a nice picture).  The other picture below this is a good shot of the whole family.  You can tell we were saying "CHEESE!"  Ha ha!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Some Elf Love

I've seen several blogs and heard several comments about the newest Christmas Craze - the Elf on the Shelf.  A lot of people are calling it stalker-ish and annoying.  However, we've had a lot of fun, and success with our elf!

Amanda will be 5 in January, and while she is certainly starting to grow out of whining and tantruming, there are times when she falls back into old habits.  Elf has been a saving beacon of hope.  We just tell her Elf is going to tell Santa she's being naughty, and wallah! she is ready to be good again.

Also, the fun of finding elf every morning is exciting for our young kids.  They wake up ready to skim the house looking for their elf.  Even Kevin looks forward to finding where he is today!

Yes, I have had several nights where I wake from a dead slumber, realizing I forgot to move elf.  In fact, 3 mornings out of 5 our elf hasn't even moved because (you guessed it), I forgot to move him.  But fortunately for us, our kids are easily sidetracked with excuses, and move on quickly.

I just wanted to say I really like this new and fun tradition.  And although it's not for everyone, we love it's magical and entertaining value.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Potluck fun!

I have been at my current company now for almost 10 years. And somewhere around 2005-ish I got involved in organizing an annual holiday potluck. At first, it started out as just a fun addition to the holidays. We would have our potluck around the 10th of December to help usher in the holiday season. Many people would sign up to bring their favorite dishes, and then we'd collect some money from those who couldn't/wouldn't cook themselves. We would go out and get some drinks, a couple party trays of sandwiches or fruit platters that would help fill in the gaps of the multitude of other dishes being brought.  Then there'd be two more holiday parties throughout the month (thrown by the company and another by the president of our division).

Then in 2008 it all changed.  With everything in the financial markets crashing, and the media tearing our parent company apart for having a "party", all holiday parties were banned.  Our potluck became the central holiday celebration at work.  And we decided to go all out!  We started by providing breakfast (donuts, bagels, OJ), then the potluck at noon which was partially financed by the head guys - we added a Honeybaked Ham, a full cooked Turkey, and all the fixin's you can think of.  By 2009 we also added Root beer floats in the afternoon, and it officially became an all-day affair.

This year, we outdid ourselves again.  From the time I came in at 8am, until I left at 5, I was running around setting up for the next part of the potluck.  And this time I remembered my camera, so I was able to document everything!  Good thing, because this was the last year for our President.  He is leaving to start a new company as of next week.  Sad for us, but exciting for him!

So I guess the moral of the story is, if you need a potluck organized, I'm your go-to woman!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas lights

The weekend after we got back was again super busy.  Mike & I participated in the final Habitat for Humanity build through our Church on Saturday.  Then we got home and put up Christmas decorations.  Here we are putting up the lights outside.
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And here is the final product (we finished just as the sun was setting!)
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Then we headed inside to decorate our living Christmas Tree!
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Christmas is one of the few times during the year that Mike is a scrooge and won't participate much. One good thing about this is, he's willing to take some pictures though, so you finally get to see ME! Although I was seriously grubby and exhausted in these pics after a full day of building a house. Sorry I wasn't at my best!

Thanksgiving recap

Finally have some time to do this (I think)!  It has been a whirlwind since we got back, and even though I've had my Xmas cards done since October, I just barely put them in the mail today!  UGH!

We flew into Chicago on Tuesday Nov. 22.  Flight was fairly uneventful which was super surprising.  Kevin actually took a nap!  Then he wanted to sit on Daddy's lap, so I got to relax by myself for a bit before we landed :)  Since we lose 2 hours flying out there, the kids went down really late (10pm Chicago time), and actually slept in since we slept in the (finished) basement and there was no sunshine to wake them up!

Wednesday we headed to the Children's museum in Naperville.  What fun the kids have here every time we go!
Kevin LOVED this structure you could hang plastic fish from:
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And then he discovered this pin table where he could push the fish and see the indent on the other side!
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And of course, the water table was a HUGE hit
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Followed by the air discovery area. He loved this tube, blowing air on him.
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Thursday, the kids were up bright and early. Here's Kevin and Grandpa Mark having their morning "coffee"
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Then the family started coming over, and I got this super-cute pic of my newest neice, Hailey
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Meanwhile Zach was being the ladies man and loving on all his girl cousins :)
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Here are all the older cousins gathered in the basement tv area. Only Hailey wasn't in this pic.
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After dinner, the husbands took the kids outside for some football fun to help burn off some of their energy. Kevin had a fun time throwing around a soft football with anyone he could throw to!
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It's all fun and games until someone knocks down Daddy!
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Amanda brought her stuffed animals out to watch her:
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Look at these rosy cheeks!
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It was cold, but not tooooooo cold, so the kids were outside for a good hour or so before their fingers started getting too cold.

Friday we headed to BounceTown (I think the name says it all)
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On a side note, it is REALLY hard to get a good pic of the kids in this place!! They are constantly running around too fast for me to snap any good pics!

Saturday it started to rain, so we stayed home for most of the day. Mike started pulling out all his old toys. Here's Amanda playing with two of his biggest Star Wars toys.
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Sunday we went to the Brunswick Fun Center, but I forgot my camera. Mike took some video on his phone (don't have it uploaded yet). Monday we stayed around the house again packing and hanging out with Mimi & Mark. And Tuesday we left (super early). Again, flight home was a success without much out of Kevin. He was coming down with a cold, so he slept most of the return flight as well!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Meet our Living Christmas Tree!  Mike heard about this last year, and we have been deciding if we wanted to do it or not.  We normally trade off each year, putting up a live Christmas tree for the years we are here for Christmas, and putting up the fake one for years we'll be in Illinois.  This year is a "live" year, so we decided to try the living Christmas Tree.  It's potted, so it never dies (unless I kill it), and they take it back to the nursery at the end of the season.  We got ours through which only serves So. Cal but I have seen articles that there are over 30 places across the country that do it.  So google it for your area and see if they have a similar program for you!
Anyway, I have a literal ton of pictures to upload from Thanksgiving.  We had so much fun, hanging out with family and doing/seeing so much.  I ran the turkey trot as planned, but twisted my ankle just after mile 2.  But guess what, I still finished in 34:03!  My best time yet!  It would have been closer to 33 minutes had not been for that stupid stick in the middle of the road!  Grrrrrr!

Hope everyone is having a great start to the Christmas season this year!!