Wednesday, December 31, 2014

december in an instant

It's hard to not just love December and all that it stands for and brings. A time to give, to worship, to love. A time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new. A time to be with family. A time to rejoice and sing. 

I love blasting Christmas music all day long (I do it sometimes in June, but it's not as universally accepted then). I love opening my mailbox every day (and opening more than just utility bills). I love sitting on the couch at the day's end in the glow of twinkling tree lights. 

Fall is still my favorite, but I'm really glad it's followed by December. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


We decided to take advantage of Ryan's time off after Christmas and spend a few days exploring more of Chicago. We usually go for doctor appointments, so it was fun to have nothing on our agenda. 

While not quite as cold as last December's jaunt to the windy city, it was still a pretty chilly few days. The girls were troopers, especially when we walked away from the protection of the wind-blocking buildings and out to the museums around the lake. Brrrrr!

We logged plenty of steps and ate some seriously good food to more than make up for it. And I finally tried Garrett's popcorn, which is now a Chicago staple for me. We attempted Eataly, but after wandering for an hour, trying to find a place to sit with two strollers, we gave up and braved the line at Shake Shack across the street. Eataly will have to wait for an adults-only trip another time. We had a great time at the Adler Planetarium; and it was FREE because of our reciprocal pass from our local museum, which is always a bonus. We also made our obligatory stop at the Bean (where Leah was less than impressed, I guess, since she had seen it before - she fell asleep!). Kate's initial impression was not great but made for one of my favorite pictures. "But mom, I don't WANT a picture at the bean!" Sometimes two year olds are just plain fun. But she eventually came around. We also took them to the American Girl Doll store for the first time which is an experience of its own. 

The girls loved the hotel, especially Kate, who took a liking to singing "Let it Go" in the shower as loud as possible. I think Leah mostly loved the continental breakfast. 

Definitely a fun three days with my little family. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in a nutshell

This holiday season was pretty wonderful. They just keep getting better! Kate is understanding so much more and Leah is still caught up in the magic. And with John Deere's mandatory shut down between Christmas and the new year, we have plenty of time to celebrate as a family. 

We enjoyed quiet nights in the glow of the tree lights, making yummy treats, bowling as a family, seeing the "Frozen" lights (Kate's favorite) and adorning our home with decorations old and new. My favorite decoration is still our Christmas card wall. We hung up extra ribbons in hopes we'd fill them all up this year and the love and holiday wishes that filled our mailbox each day did not disappoint. 

We participated in and enjoyed the second annual Christmas music night at our friends, the Davidsons. Such a wonderful evening spent listening to and performing so many Christmas, holiday and winter songs. I played Sleigh Ride again with my good friend Haley (we were each stand-ins for our own moms) and Kate was neither tall nor small like the rest of the snowmen, but at least she tried? 

Ryan and I got to go on a few dates, one to a local art museum for his work party. An open bar just isn't as fun when you don't drink, but it was fun to get dressed up! 

Kate was my great holiday helper this year. She helped wrap and address the gifts, made sure they were well adjusted under the tree and ensured we didn't miss a single chocolate from the advent calendar the second Ryan walked in the door from work. 

The Sunday before Christmas is always one of my favorite days. The aforementioned Haley was in charge of the program this year and did a phenomenal job. I was able to accompany the choir for a handful of pieces. I love getting dressed up in our new Christmas outfits too. When Kate saw my red tights, she decided she needed to match when we got home. 

On Christmas Adam, we had a family sleepover in the front room. I think it will be a new tradition. The girls were fans. 

Christmas Eve was filled with tradition and anticipation. We didn't get a white Christmas, but we did get a wet one. Pajamas were opened, stockings were hung (or laid out on the couch since we don't have a fireplace), treats were left for Santa and his reindeer and the Christmas story was recited. The girls giggled for about an hour before they finally fell asleep. 

Christmas morning was filled with laughter and excitement. Kate was our official gift dispenser and she took her job very seriously. Leah loved her new chair cushion and kicks and Kate loved her new-to-her crib. Little did she know it's 32 years young. I painted over my old doll crib and sewed new bedding. My favorite gift for Ryan was a Boston Marathon ornament. I spent hours scouring the internet and different stores in the area for a simple running shoe ornament, to no avail. A few days before Christmas, I decided to try once again and found a single Iowa Hawkeyes football cleat ornament. I snatched it up quick and took it home for surgery. I painted over the logo, making the black parts Boston Marathon blue (the yellow was already perfect!) and then added a Boston logo before mod podge-ing it all in place. It turned out perfectly and is a great memento of a big part of our year. 

Later in the day we had the sister missionaries over so they could talk to their families. The joy and laughter coming from our office was contagious. We then had the missionaries and two other families over for a mouth watering pot luck dinner. 

A wonderful season wrapped up by a blessed day with friends (and family from afar). 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Card 2014

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! 

(This little one thinks she's on the nice list...)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

We believe!

Our girls had a few opportunities to meet with the man in the red suit this year and I'm confident in saying that at least one of them is a believer! 

Leah went on a school field trip to the Festival of Trees. Santa happened to be in attendance and he signed Leah's hand. She couldn't have been more pleased!

Her second run in with Santa was at a restaurant in the neighboring city of LeClaire. We brought along little sister. Leah giggled with glee as she told St. Nick what she wanted via her switch. Kate decided she likes the idea of Santa more than the real deal. 

Our church congregation had a Christmas party a few days later, giving Kate one final chance to sit on Santa's lap. We helped the girls fill out their letters (which they answered on their least Kate was honest???). Leah was, once again, thrilled to meet her jolly match. Kate's visit started out a little unsure, but in the end she was a fan. Success! 

We also listened to some great music and decorated some gingerbread houses - Kate's first. She was pleased with the outcome. She was also pleased with the pieces of candy that didn't quite make it onto the house, as shown by the remains left on her face. 

Also, plaid is where it's at.