Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wrapping Up Christmas!

Happy last day of 2014! All of our Christmas decorations are down already, which is so unlike the usual around here. Typically I can't bring myself to say goodbye to the tree and lights until after the New Year. That is what I have been up to this week. From the minute my feet have hit the floor in the morning I have been decluttering, doing dishes, washing laundry, and packing up the holidays. I just couldn't take the chaos another day! I am so ready to be out of holiday mode this year so that I can focus on the next big thing for our family - being in BABY mode!! I've barely even let myself think about the impending arrival of our newest member, because I've kept telling myself, "Just gotta get through Christmas, just gotta get through Christmas." Now that we're on the other side all I want to do is dream and look at tiny clothes. :)

Our Christmas holidays are usually pretty long, stretched out for about a week, and sometimes more. Even with one less stop this year, we still had six Christmases to attend between our families. So before the clock strikes twelve and we put this year behind us, I thought I would squeak in the last half of our Christmas, starting with our own Christmas morning.

This year we were a bit out of sorts, mostly because Reagan hit a weird sleep regression and had been keeping me up LATE every night for about two weeks prior to the holidays. I couldn't wrap a present, put anything together, or do any of the normal extra stuff I usually do once the kids are in bed. Everything was left down to the last minute, and that included putting some things together on Christmas Eve. Praise the Lord Reagan mercifully went down at a decent time that night so that we could get to work! There was one toy in particular that I knew needed assembling - just a little toy motorcycle for our son that seemed simple enough and which I didn't think would be a big deal at all to snap together. But it turns out Eric practically had to bang the entire thing together with a mallet, and it was SO LOUD. Haha. I was afraid we were going to wake the neighbors, never mind the kids in the next room! Somehow, miraculously, it got done, and only Reagan was a little disturbed in the process. I did have to run some interference with him, haha.

After the culmination of many late nights and a full Christmas Eve, I was dead to the world on Christmas morning. Grace was the first one awake, and she was ridiculously excited. Bless her. She dragged me and Reagan out of bed...a very crabby Reagan who just wanted to go back to sleep, haha. It took some of us a few minutes to wake up and join in on the excitement that the girls had. :)

Reagan did like that darn motorcycle, though!

Oh Gracie girl...we were all half asleep but she was ALL about it.

Stockings were first....

 Followed by lots of present opening. I'll spare you all of the pictures I have, haha. 

This was Evelyn's absolute, must have, number one gift - Shopkins. She had been asking for them foreeeever...and needless to say she was pretty pleased to find a few waiting for her under the tree. 

I was most excited to give the kiddos their Frozen Animators Dolls. It worked out so nicely that there was a perfect doll for each kid. They are stinkin cute - from Kristoff's adorable outfit to the hand painted freckles on each of their faces. We are NOT ready for American Girl in this house, haha. My children would not appreciate such an expensive toy. But these, we can do.

We had a really nice morning in the end, followed by some biscuits and gravy and time to enjoy the new gifts before getting ready to head out to family Christmas #4.

Each year on Christmas Day we travel to Missouri to spend the day with Eric's mom's side of the family. It's always hard for me to get a lot of pictures here, but I did manage to sneak in a couple...where I mostly got looks from my children something like this:


It had turned out to be a fairly nice day, so the kids were able to throw on their coats and play on the swing set for a while. They had fun running around all day long!

The next day was my mother in law's birthday (Happy Birthday, Joan!) and also our favorite children's clothing sale of the we packed up the kids and shopped til we dropped. Whew. Then on Saturday it was time for two more family Christmases. 

The first stop was my grandma's. Eric couldn't come with us, because he had to work that morning, so no pictures here. I was flying solo with a very clingy Reagan! We opened gifts and ate some pizza - a Linnertz family Christmas tradition - before meeting up with Eric for the Simpson family Christmas late that afternoon.

 Our kids always have a blast here, because there are so many cousins running around and they pretty much bounce off of the walls. It isn't every year that we have all of the immediate cousins home for Christmas, so it was so sweet to get lots of pictures of them all together. 

Waiting patiently for their turns with Santa Claus. :)

I was shocked when both Grace and Reagan sat on Santa's lap with no fuss...given our experience just a couple of weeks before...

...even if Reagan did give the stink eye the entire time, haha.

Such a wonderfully exhausting Christmas season we had!

The girlies looked so cute eating their giant snowman cupcakes. I think I took about 20 pictures of them sitting there. :)

Even though there is a fairly predictable pattern to all of the festivities we enjoy every year, each Christmas brings such different and distinct memories for me. This year I will always remember as the crazy one where pregnancy and sickness and exhaustion forced us to cram it all into two weeks at the end and how we just made it by the skin of our teeth. I highly doubt I will ever spend another holiday season with a baby in my belly, and I'm not complaining about that one. ;) Miss Charlotte did make her presence known...VERY I swear she is the most active baby I have ever had. I don't know that there is a time she isn't moving around and kicking me.

But yes, all of the decor is down now...we have moved on...and I am excited to ring in the New Year this evening with our little family. We had an amazing 2014, and we have SO much to look forward to in 2015. So much!! I only wish I could peep into the future a bit and know just how crazy life is going to be with four kids and how much time will be left for blogging, haha. We all know how it has gone since I became pregnant this year. Whoopsy daisy. :) But I can't even imagine giving it up. Thank you all for following along with us this year! See you in 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Two more family Christmases today...two more...and then Christmas 2014 will be in the books. We have had such a great holiday this year. The kids never want any of it to and dad might just be ready to drop. :)

Today we're rewinding it back to Christmas Eve to share a little bit of our family time and festivities. This year was lovely, because it was the first in very many that neither Eric nor I had to be completely tethered to a child. All of our kiddos were old enough to run and play and go up and down stairs by themselves. Wonderful. Totally forgotten what it was like to have some freedom! Of course that will be short-lived as we will be back to square one again next year, but it was really nice while it lasted, haha.

Eric always works a half day on Christmas Eve, which means it is down to me to get all of the kids ready as well as myself, and get gifts together and prepare the food we're taking and make sure the kids eat and the house stays clean and all of that other good stuff. It is always an insane morning. And I am always cursing under my breath that "Next year he IS taking this day off!!" By the time we are walking out the door for our first stop of the season, I am already exhausted. But - no time to rest! We hit the ground running this year.

Reagan wouldn't pose for a single picture the entire night, the little stinker. :)

Every single one of the cousins were in town on the Robert family side, which means we had a night of complete pandemonium and chaos. Perfect - Christmas as I remember it. :) When we are all together we push the limits of grandma's house!

There was a lovely appetizer spread, as usual. This wasn't all of it...or even the best of it, haha. Hot wings and smokies and other warm delectables were on another counter. ;)

And when it was time to open gifts there wasn't a single place to step. The entire floor was covered with kids and boxes and wrapping paper was FLYING. Much different than the years all of the adults sat around and opened presents one at a time. All of the moms and dad's were asking, "Whose is this? Who gave that to you? Is that yours or hers or his?" Yep, pure chaos.

Once again the family was much too generous and the kids received many wonderful things. Reagan was the recipient of a family tradition - his very own rocking chair. Now each of the kids have one. :)

After we were all completely over-stimulated, it was time for another party - huzzah! :D 

It was time to go to my parent's house, where the kids made a beeline for the arcade in the basement. Nothing like hearing a booming video game voice announce "TOTAL CARNAGE!" through the house on Christmas eve. 

Reagan was playing pool in his own special way....

No clue how he even got up there!

For the past couple of years my mom has made tacos and fajitas for Christmas. So yummy!

Bean face. I think Reagan was channeling Clark Griswold with his shirt back there, haha.

Of course, the kids were excited to open presents! I was excited to give gifts this year. I had fun putting together some things and going more of the home made route for the adults. I think my hands were numb from a wreath making marathon, haha....

Photo calendars were also a hit this year!

Shannon wasn't able to be with us for the holidays - boo, and somehow most of my brothers are mysteriously missing from any photos. :) So strange that MY family's Christmas was the quieter one.

Soon it was time to gather our things and get home in anticipation of a certain someone's arrival. I have no idea how our kids still look so awake and happy in this picture, haha. It was late!

For as much fun as we have getting together with our families, I always look forward to the quiet time on Christmas Eve when all of the children are finally asleep and I'm able to move around and do my thing. I dream about those quiet moments all year long. Probably one of my favorite things about being a mom. :)

Eric and I always debate about how much to give our kids. He thinks we do too much while I think we have a very modest Christmas. We'll never agree, because he grew up getting just a couple of presents each year, and this is about 1/3 of what I got. :) We try to strike a compromise, but I think this sight still gives him a mild panic attack on Christmas morning, haha. When I'm given a budget I will spend hours and days and weeks researching and shopping and trying to get the most for our money. But Eric's mind thinks completely differently. Just because we have the budget doesn't mean we have to spend it all - one or two nice things is good enough. I don't think either way is right or wrong, and we're lucky that it's one of the ONLY things we ever disagree on. :D We'll have to wait and see what we decide on next year...still figuring this one out for our family!

I hope that you all had a great holiday...and maybe you're like us and it's still not over yet! In just a few hours we are off to my grandma's and then it's the annual Simpson family Christmas party. Should be fun! We'll share our Christmas Day soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Concerts!

Hi, friends! Couldn't let CHRISTMAS week go by without posting. :)

We had a great weekend, and I have very few pictures to show for it. I put Eric in charge of the camera, and there was, haha. We have lots of video, though! My computer has not been loving me lately, and I can't seem to get still pictures from video or upload to youtube at the moment, so here is a lovely picture of our friend Adrian. Everybody say, "Hello, Adrian!"

It seemed that our entire weekend revolved around Sunday. Sunday was the day of our annual Christmas service at church as well as a concert that night from our friend up there. I'm pretty sure I've blogged before about how Eric and I started dating and the band and all of that jazz. It's fairly funny stuff that we ALL crack up about now. So of course when Adrian came to town a few of the guys got together to play a song or two or three. 

We didn't have our normal Saturday date night because of band practice (sounds so weird to me now!) but instead we went out to dinner beforehand with Adrian and his wife Angeline. It was super fun! It's always a necessity for us to go out at least once when they are in our neck of the woods. You know the kind of friends that you don't see for a long time, but then you get together and it's like you just hung out yesterday? Yeah, those kind. They are those kind.

I wish I had pictures of the kids' faces when I brought them to the church and they saw their dad playing guitar on the stage. They've never seen that. Which is also so funny to me...I think it's literally been a decade since Eric played in public in any way. :)

Just a lot of fun with old friends and some good music. For a brief moment I was transported back in time. And these two...

They were a hoot. Reagan seems to have taken a liking to Naomi, hehe. Naomi is our friends Chris and Kiara's daughter, and Chris was the lead guitarist in the old band. Any time Reagan saw her this weekend his eyes lit up and they were two peas in a pod. They both have big baby blues, so I totally understand the appeal there. :)

On Sunday some of our kiddos in the pre-k and kindergarten class sang songs in the Christmas service that were just too cute. Gracie really puts her heart into singing and tries hard to do the motions and perform to the best of her ability. And a ham. I mean, there is just no other way to put it. Put that child in front of an audience, and there is hard telling what she will do! At least it's usually something funny and not too mortifying. :) One thing is for sure, our girls are NOT shy. At all.

(And it's a Christmas miracle - finally got this video to upload!)

Girl never met a microphone she didn't like. :)

Does anyone else feel like Christmas is coming entirely too fast this week?? I keep thinking that I have one extra day to get things done, but nope. Christmas Eve is tomorrow! I still have all of the kids' gifts to wrap (and one to put together!) and a house to clean and we're headed off to the dentist in a little bit for the girls to get their teeth nice and shiny for the holidays. I'm also still finishing up some home made gifts for people, so seriously...let's see how much I'm going to accomplish in the next 12 hours or so! I think I'm more wiped out this year as a pregnant lady than I usually am with a newborn during the holidays, and that's saying something.

If I don't get a chance to post again between now and then (and I hope to, but no promises, haha) I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!! And I hope that some of you are having a very Happy Hanukkah! I can't wait to see all of the little ones dressed up and hear about all of the fun. IF I'm able to pull it off, tomorrow I will be sharing what's under the Robert Christmas tree for the kids this year. That's a big "if." One of the gifts is supposed to arrive TODAY, and it better get it here. Haha. Okay. It's dentist time. (Pray for me...the girls are not fans of the dentist and I am outnumbered!) Have a great day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sweet Christmas

I'm in a really bad neglectful blog habit. :) Sorry to family who I know check in every day! In a list of things to accomplish the poor ole blog is usually the first thing that falls off the list! (I'll be better now that as of about 12:00am last night I officially bought the LAST Christmas gift for the kiddos. Still had one last Reagan gift hanging out there. Whew.)

We have been enjoying all of the sweet things of Christmas lately...the sweet sights and sounds, and of course the sweet TASTES! It's more than just about having a treat now and then while watching Christmas movies or hanging out in the's about the fun in making those treats. I was never able to share our cookie baking day with my mom - the calm before another sickness hit our house.

Gracie was so excited for this day - bugged me for a week about when it was time to go to grandma's and bake cookies. She was a big helper, as usual. Grace constantly wants to be looking over my shoulder in the kitchen. All of my kids love to help cook, but Grace will pull up a chair every day to carefully observe every little thing I do. Someday I will happily let her make dinner. :) (Evelyn and Reagan are my cleaners! Grace LOATHES cleaning, haha.)

When we arrived we immediately dove into baking peanut butter cookies. Making sugary criss-crosses was the perfect kid job.

This year on the list were: peanut butter, peanut butter blossoms, pecan puffs, chocolate chip, three varieties of oatmeal, and sugar cookies. (In addition to rolo candies, peanut butter cheerio bars, chocolate covered pretzel rods, and home made chex mix. We have not gone hungry!)

I know I've shared this picture before, but it just cracks me up! I caught Reagan trying to push in all off the still-warm chocolate kisses on top of the peanut butter blossoms. You could see the temptation in his eyes and in his wiggling pointer finger. So funny. :)

Of course the kids were really there for one highly anticipated activity - cutout sugar cookies. We didn't make them wait long. Soon we were cookie cutting our little hearts out.

 The real fun for them is in the decorating!
(And sampling)

 They did a great job. :)

So many yummy treats!

We stayed warm and toasty inside with the oven baking away all day. After all of the fun, some of us were a little sleepy. :)

I hope this is a tradition we can keep up year after year!

This week Eric had to take a short business trip. His view looked like this....

While mine looked like this....

Much smaller buildings. :)

Evelyn had been asking to build a gingerbread house and it just so happened that I had one tucked away. Our elf Moe brought it for us and the kids got busy unwrapping candies and decorating.

It was another sweet way to pass the time!

Pretty sure Grace has been sneaking nibbles of this house all week. She came up to me with a pouty lip one day and said "I sowwy I ate the gingerbread man...." Sure enough he was totally MIA. :)

We enjoy these types of things as part of traditions that we've started as a family. I'm surprised with as young as my kids are that they already remember and look forward to these activities each year. In fact, they remind ME that we need to do them. I hope that you are making some sweet memories, too this holiday season!


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