Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Year's Weekend

We hosted Scott's side of the family over the New Year's weekend for our holiday gathering. We had gotten together two years ago over New Year's when it was the off year for Christmas and it worked out well so we did it again this year. Des Moines area was a good central location as it eliminated quite a few hours for Scott's sisters family from MN. I enjoyed hosting at my home and we had room for everyone to stay (Dave and Margie stayed at hotel). Next time, we will squeeze everyone in! 

Everyone arrived on Friday night and we enjoyed pizza from Papa Murphy's that Scott's brothers family picked up on their way (easy for me!). 



We had an easy breakfast the next morning of kolaches from Scott's mom, fruit and coffee. Everyone hung out for a bit before heading off to lunch at El Mariachi and a group showing of Rogue One at Flix. Everyone enjoyed seeing the movie at Flix and the movie. I stayed home with the girls to put them down for a nap and to prep supper. 


We had lasagna, bread, salad, veggies, and wine for dinner which was nice and also easy for me to prepare. I felt a little bad it wasn't a traditional Christmas meal but I feel like a turkey and all the sides is a lot of work to prepare and wasn't technically Christmas anymore. :o) Mostly I am good at detecting my own challenges and know that meal prep is no longer a great skill I possess and so this worked out well. I also made plain noodles for kids who did not like lasagna. We moved our dining room table into the main room so we could put the leaves in it and comfortably seat 10. It was fun to have such a big table out for the weekend! The kids sat at the counter when we all sat down for meals together. 



We enjoyed so many good Christmas treats, many made by Scott's sister who had lots of homemade goodies! I only made cornflake wreaths and sugar cookies (from a bag and tub) this year and even doing that was a lot. So glad I could still have the classics like chocolate crinkles and peanut butter blossoms! 


We opened presents after dinner (minus the girls who had to go to bed early because they were sooo cranky!) and a hit from the stockings were these jelly belly beans that were pop flavored. It was fun trying to guess what flavor it was without looking. 



I gave my nephew two pounds of Reeses peanut butter cups...because if there is one thing I know, it is what middle schoolers like (hint: the more ridiculous it is, the better). 


We had sooo much fun playing games downstairs after dinner. Pie in the face was hilarious as well as heads up. I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time, mostly at the ridiculous things my husband said to get people to guess movies. It was also neat to spend time with my niece and nephew as they are getting so much older (although I miss the days when they were cute toddlers!). 


Everyone left mid morning on Sunday to head back home. I was thankful everyone had safe travels to our home and it was nice to see everyone (even though it felt too short!). 

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Adventureland Inn

My parents arranged for us to spend a night at the Adventureland Inn between Christmas and New Years as a Christmas present to us and it was so much fun! 


My sister and brother's family joined us also for swimming and then hanging out afterwards. The pool area is so fun and we had a room that led right to the courtyard which made it really nice. All the pool side rooms are suites which give you two rooms with a living area, fridge/microwave, and a balcony. We just brought in our own easy food for dinner and it worked out well. 


I took a few photos with my water camera but I didn't realize it would get dark so quickly in the mostly solar lighted courtyard so I just have a few. 







We have stayed at the hotel a few times before, but always in conjunction with our Adventureland trips. This was fun because we could just focus on swimming and enjoying the hotel. They also have a really fun arcade with cool games and actual prizes you can buy with your tickets, which was a highlight for Michael. I had fun venturing over to the older courtyard where the original pool is. We had stayed at Adventureland Inn when I was a child, in a pool side room, and I remember it being the cushiest, most fun vacation ever (even getting a magic coloring book at the gift shop!). It was so funny how being over there brought back those memories- it seems so much the same! 

Scott, Michael, Denise and I also went to Jolly Holiday Lights which is at Adventureland at night. We had to wait quite a bit to get through it but in the future, if you redeem your voucher ahead of time, they will probably let you cut right from the hotel to the lights (which are like two feet away from the hotel parking lot). We saw someone else do it! It was neat seeing all the new displays in their new location. 

Mom brought a coffee cake for breakfast in the morning while Michael and I swam a bit more. We headed home around noon which was just enough time for us to get ready for the next wave of family which arrived for the New Year's weekend. I was smart and ordered my groceries online so I could swing by HyVee and get them on the way home! It did eliminate quite a bit of stress and I was proud of myself! 

It was a really fun overnight and provided lots of good memories for our family. Thank you, Mom and Dad! 

Christmas Day!

We celebrated Christmas day at our house and it was so nice! My dad and sister were here to join us and we had a really nice time. It was low key, fun, enjoyable, not too much work for me, and I thought it all went really smoothly. 

We went to the 3pm Christmas Eve service at church and it was nice because all the kids could take a quick nap, then get a bath before they were all prettied up for church. We were thankful the service had nursery because I was not sure how I could handle both girls for over an hour in church! It is always funny to me how the nursery at church is filled with mostly two year olds as that seems to be the hardest age to keep entertained while in church. It was a really nice service and I had to try really hard not to bawl my eyes out the whole time (which is basically every service- maybe I should start a crying in church anonymous group?). I tried really hard to refocus on advent and simplifying this season, focusing on the birth of Jesus, and the Christmas Eve service was really a nice cherry on top and brought it all home. 

It was nice going to the 3pm service because then we had time to head over to the cemetery before it got too dark and cold. We sang Silent Night to baby Trace and lit some candles for him and then headed home. My mom also gave me the idea of lighting a candle by his tree at our house and I had never thought of that so maybe I will try it next year. I don't mind going out to the cemetery- it really puts things in perspective for me and forces me to hold my blessings close to my heart. Every year I think that Jesus must be having a heck of a birthday party in heaven. 

We came home and had a nice supper of soup (tortellini tomato with graziano sausage...tried something new), bread, veggie pizza (tradition) and meatballs (also tradition). We just had cookies for dessert and then everyone headed to be pretty early. Minus me, of course, since I had waited until literally the eleventh hour to wrap presents and had a huge stack to wrap! I had not had one single moment to do it before Christmas Eve...time really got away from me. 

I also had been feeling really run down the month of December, mostly due to a constant sore throat and also the result of a new medication I was taking. I finally went to the doctor to get on an antibiotic a week before Christmas (and stopped taking the medication on his advice) and tried to will myself to feel better in time for all the festivities. In all honesty, self care has been on the lowest rung of my priority ladder, and I know that has to change in 2017. Anytime I don't feel good it also kicks my anxiety into high gear and that results in less rest, which I should be getting more of, and it just spirals from there. Plus I feel like I never really recovered from my intense concert season and school is always as busy as ever. I'm happy to say I am feeling much better and I felt great the entire break. are some photos: 





The girls loved their new baby beds and accessories (pillows, blankets, pjs for baby) and were so excited to see them sitting out in front of the tree on Christmas morning! 




Michael got some new Megbloks sets (he didn't Legos!), a Skylanders card game, Harry Potter books 4-6, Pete's dragon, Finding Dory, and new fluffy jammies.


The girls were excited to get new Legos just for them (Disney Junior ones---sooooo cute!) and knew immediately what they were when they were opened. "Wegos!" Anna said so excitedly. Santa was smart and brought two of each set and they both have special pieces and heaven forbid girls had to share. The also both got new Magna Doodle pads which are so fun. 
Santa couldn't resist these Moana legos! 





All the kids also got these cute stuffed kittens and they kids LOVE them! Michael's is different and the girls are the same. Also I am happy the girls each have one because of the sharing thing. 



By far one of the most popular gifts for Anna was a little box of wrapped up white fudge covered oreos. She kept trying to steal them and hide in a corner to eat them. Where does she learn that? 


Scott got a Chad Greenway autographed football and photo compliments of my sister who had a shoot with him for her company. She also got me the Naked 3 palette which I had been wanting! It's beautiful! 


We had a nice breakfast of baked french toast (also a tradition), oranges and mimosas. 



We then packed up and headed over to my Aunt Gwen and Uncle Bill's in West Des Moines for Christmas Day. The girls had fun reading books with their grandpa and aunts. Michael had fun playing his new Skylanders card game with his old Grandma and my cousins. We all had fun watching my uncle feed his pet squirrel (that is fattest squirrel I've ever seen!, Michael said). I enjoyed playing with my nieces and catching up with family and most importantly.... not cooking a big prime rib roast (the pressure for perfection is too much!). 

I know it is hard to open your open up to so many little ones, but are thankful my aunt and uncle invited us all over. It was a really nice day!

That is our Christmas in a nutshell! 

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