Day 16 and girls night!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tonight was my girls' night! Several of us used to get together every Monday night to watch the Bachelor or the Bachelorette on tv. Because of our busy schedules, last season we were only able to get together for 3-4 of the episodes. However, one of the bachelorettes finally got married and it was being televised. We knew we couldn't miss this! We were there when they fell in love, we had to be there when they got married. And, most importantly, it was a good excuse for us to get together ;) It was soooooo good to get together and catch up on our lives. It was very refreshing for the soul during this busy time. I am very thankful for these women!

My beautiful friends!

Anyway, because we watched it on a Monday night, Bill was going to have to be in charge of the activity, and it was going to have to be at his parents house since I was hosting. We decided to do the Christmas cards for teachers. Bill found a design online and they went to town making them. I think the teachers are going to love them!

My beautiful babies :)

Gingerbread Houses!! Day 16

We were planning on seeing Zoo Lights with Aunt Nicki and Uncle Nicholas, like we had last year. Unfortunately the only day that worked was a Sunday. Aunt Nicki thoughtfully asked if we might prefer to do make Gingerbread houses at the Art Institute so that the kids didn't have to be out late before school. We thought this was a great idea!

When the kids opened that calendar they were beyond excited! They love Aunt Nicki and Uncle Nicholas, and of course, any time they can get to see Stanley they are going to be overjoyed! We picked them up and headed straight to the Art Institute. When they pulled out the houses we were all in awe. They smelled sooooo good! They came with a big piping bag of frosting and a ridiculous amount of candy. Rori wanted to work with Aunt Nicki because Aunt Nicki is magical :) I took Liam and Bill and Uncle Nicholas helped Brendan.

Look at all that candy!

Rori is in heaven!

Me and my sweet firstborn boy!
It was really amazing. I could have sat there all day decorating the house. And, I think Bill will need his own gingerbread house because I kept hearing him tell Brendan and Nicholas that their ideas didn't fit the design aesthetic :) Liam ate half of his candy, but there was still plenty to fill up his house! After we decorated the houses, we went back to Aunt Nicki and Uncle Nicholas' for some Stanley time and pizza. Liam wasn't feeling well (which I could tell while we were outside waiting to get into the Art Institute. He kept saying he was freezing, and if you know Liam, you know that he is a radiator of heat, so when he's cold, he's probably sick).

One for my mouth

and one for the house
serious business


the final masterpieces!

Looks pretty good for a 3 year old...

We had a really lovely time and are displaying the houses on my new counter tops :) Thank goodness for them, or else I don't know where we would put them. My kitchen smells heavenly and the kids love to show them off to anyone who will pay attention (show off the houses, not my counters ;) ). So thank you Aunt Nicki for giving our kids this fun experience! The kids are so blessed to have you both in their lives!

Merry Christmas

To all!

and to all a good night!

Day 15 I don't remember much...

Today we switched up our plan the night before, thank goodness--I am going to say it was a God thing. We ended up planning an easy Christmas craft. The reason this worked out so well was because I went to the gym for the first time in an embarrassingly long time. I ran for about two miles and stopped for a drink of water. That's when I felt it starting. I knew my exercise induced anaphylaxis was starting. On top of being nervous about how bad it might get, I was frustrated because I hadn't eaten turkey or chicken for lunch. I left the gym and took the 7 benadryl that my doctor said was safe to take. As soon as I got home, I got in the shower, and asked Bill to stay nearby because my hands and feet were itching badly and my face was swelling. I was terrified about using my epi-pen because one, I don't want to stab myself, and two, you have to go to the hospital after you use it. So...I decided to drink some children's benadryl because the liquid works faster than the pills.

It seemed to stop getting worse so I drove to Jo-Ann's to buy some yarn that I needed for my new crochet hobby that I am learning from my friend Gabli. When I got home, I asked Bill to make me some coffee, so that I could stay awake after all that benadryl, while I helped the kids with their Christmas craft. I drank a full cup. Shortly after, I felt like the floor was coming up to meet me. I felt like my legs were like lead. I was really scared that I may have OD'd on benadryl. I crawled to the bathroom while Bill called poison control. I was going to induce vomiting if need be. Rori asked me if I was going to survive. I assured her I would (however, my crazy brain was scared I may pass out and not wake up). The poison control guy told Bill I didn't take a fatal amount, but not to mix it with caffeine because it will exasperate the effects of the benadryl. Oops. So, I went and laid down for about 3 hours and willed myself to stay awake because I still had the fear that I might not wake up.

After about 3 hours I was functioning again, but I don't really remember much about the craft--it was painting and then making cards, and I did not take any pictures. Oh--but I did remember that I had a sample of a turkey roll-up at Sam's Club and I am guessing that's what set of the allergic reaction. So there you have it. Day 15 of our Advent :)

Day 14 Thank you to our Public Servants

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today we made cookies for the firemen. I let Rori and Liam each pick out what cookie they wanted to make. I picked out Brendan's :) He normally loves to help bake, but the day before we had made cookies for grandma and grandpa Casey, so I think he had gotten his baking fix. "He" made candy cane cookies with a Junior Mint pressed in the center. It was a new recipe in my "Our Best Bites" cookbook. I did most of it by myself. It was actually really calming because I got to use my new counter space and really spread out. My new counters face a window so I could look out and day dream. Brendan did help with pressing in the Junior Mints, thought. I didn't get any pictures because somebody had to make sure he didn't burn himself...

When Liam got home we made peanut butter blossoms. He loooooved making these. He kept saying how good they smelled. He is old enough that he pretty much did everything and I just supervised. These cookies remind me of baking with Auntie Val. Jenna almost always picked this type, so for me, it is very much a traditional Christmas cookie. He really enjoyed rolling the balls in the sugar. He told the firemen he rolled them in salt, but I clarified it for them ;) .

He licked the peanut butter left in the measuring cup

Rolling in "salt"
Shortly after we finished Liam's cookie, I turned the tv on to eat my lunch. That's when I saw the news about the devastating tragedy in Newtown, CT. I started to sob as the level of devastation was becoming realized. Brendan walked into the room and asked me if I was crying because "Dude" (Liam) was naughty. I told him no, I was crying because of what was on TV. He told me to turn it off and put Batman on, that would make me feel better. I did turn it off, but I did not feel better. I went upstairs and just prayed. It took everything in my power not to run to Rori's school and pick her up and hold her safe in my arms. Away In A Manger kept running through my head "Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, And take us to heaven to live with Thee there" I prayed for mercy and peace.

I contemplated cancelling our activity. I didn't know if it seemed insensitive. But I didn't want to tell the kids about what happened. I don't want them going to school in fear, and they were looking forward to delivering the cookies. So at 3:00 I grabbed Rori and held her. Then we baked cookies. She picked out double chocolate peppermint cookies with a candy cane kiss in the center. I am not going to lie. These were delicious. They were a chocolate cookie with dark chocolate ghirardelli chips and some peppermint extract. Seriously delicious. My favorite flavor combination.

She's getting so independent

So when papa got home, we plated the cookies and headed to the fire station. The firemen seemed very touched by the kids bringing them cookies. Liam was unusually outgoing and told them that he helped make them, rolled them in salt, and that he at two of them already. They let the kids sit in the firetruck and gave them each a hat and coloring book. Afterwards, I thought we probably should've delivered some to the police station. Next year, police officers, our cookies are coming for you ;) 

Day 13 Ode to Leslie

Everyone needs a Leslie in their lives. Clearly mine is special to me as I have mentioned her 47 times in the last month... :) She is the woman we all want to be--super mom, crafty, fun, patient, a fabulous baker, an athlete, and still has time to care for others. I really don't know how she does it all, and with such grace. When I attempt to do all that, I become a shrew, it's not pretty, ask Bill. Anyway..., today was her children's Christmas party. The night before the party she made 13 gingerbread houses!! 13! Today she had 13 kids (actually 14 but her Caleb is too little to really participate) over for fun and food. Just the thought of hosting a party for 13 kids makes my eye twitch.

She had several fun games like an indoor snowball fight, pass the present, and find the candy canes. Then came the gingerbread houses!!! The kids had a BLAST decorating them with frosting and candy. The kids had the greatest time! They were so excited to bring home their houses and show Papa. I was ready for bed. Leslie didn't even look frazzled when we left. So thank you, Leslie, for opening your house to us and for all your hard work in putting this very fun evening together! My kids are still talking about it (because clearly "today" is actually almost a week late :) ).

*We have discovered that we need shrink the size of our picture files or else blogger runs out of space--I am not sure how clear these are so if the quality is really bad, please tell me and I will make the files a little bigger (my computer has fingerprints and stuff on the screen so I can't tell ;) ).
Brendan and his "best buddy" (that's what he calls Aaron)

Pass the present! Inside were sticky hands for each kid

Liam and James

Snowball fight!! Leslie is one brave mama!

So much fun!! And noone got hurt and nothing got broken!!



Leslie's hard work

An equal amount of candy went in the mouth as on the house :) 

The girl to boy ratio was almost equal--nearly unheard of when our families get together!

My walking heart...I love this girl

I love this boy even though he tends to look like he's been on a 3 day bender when the camera is on him ;) 

I had to get a shot of Andrew's hands! Leslie, I have one of his face too but he's making a Liam face so I didn't post it :) 

All the kids!
She had several fun games like an indoor snowball fight, pass the present, and find the candy canes. Then came the gingerbread houses!!! The kids had a BLAST decorating them with frosting and candy. The kids had an absolute blast! They were so excited to bring home their houses and show Papa. I was ready for bed. Leslie didn't even look frazzled when we left.

Day 12 Toot Toot

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today we were going to make Christmas cards for our teachers, but Leslie posted on Facebook that a choo choo restaurant was having a special where if you brought new, unwrapped toys, you would get free kids meals! We had gone to a train restaurant over the summer with Jenna when we had a Groupon and the kids periodically ask when they can go back, so this seemed like a great opportunity for the kids to have fun and do a good deed.

We bribed Brendan with playing with the train if he ate his dinner--he's been on a hunger strike.

The kids were so proud to carry in the new toys to donate to kids that need them. They had each picked out things that they thought someone else would like. The food was surprisingly delicious and the servers were really nice. One of them brought a train for the kids to play with at our table. They got the biggest kick out of the trains bringing all the customers their food. We don't go out to eat with the kids very often, because it gets pretty expensive, so this was a good excuse to do that and do something nice for those in need.

We ran into these guys there :) 

Day 11 Playing Hooky!

Andrew, Aaron, Rori, James, Liam, and Brendan (Caleb was in the stroller)

Last year we went to see Santa on the first day of Advent and I kept the kids home from school. I thought it could be an annual tradition, but this year December 1 was a Saturday, and I hate crowds. There was no way we were going that day. Plus, part of the fun is getting to ditch school! We waited until they had Santa there during the school day and I pulled Rori out when Liam was finished with his school. We were able to coordinate with Leslie and her boys and Liam and Brendan loved getting to go with their "best buddies".
I love this Santa! He really does a great job!
We went to the same hunting store that we went to last year. They have a fabulous Santa and the decor is gorgeous! It really looks like a Winter Wonderland. The kids all told Santa what they would like this year and then they moved on to the other activities. New this year was the carousel.

 The kids thought it was really cool and rode it twice. Which meant I rode it twice because Brendan was too small to ride it by himself. Fortunately it didn't go so fast that I got nauseous, because in my old age, that happens.

Next it was on to pretend riding on the ATV's. For some reason, the kids think these are the coolest things ever!

Next we wrote letters to Santa. They had a mailbox you could drop your letter into and he would email you back.
This was serious business--that's my pretty friend Leslie on the side. I don't know how she has time to do her hair with 4 kids, she has not yet joined my daily ponytail club

Even for Brendan

Liam wrote two notes

We had a great time and I am glad we were able to keep it as part of our tradition!