The year of the shoe…

Sometimes we end of up having a repeating gift on Christmas morning without even intending to do so. This year was the year of the shoe. Steve’s been asking for cool “dad” shoes. Hunter only asked for one thing for Christmas and it was shoes. And Hallie also is in a shoe phase as are many high school kids these days. (Briggs also ended up with a pair, not because he wanted them but because he needed them!)

Steve was the first one to open shoes and Hunter was salivating as he turned the shoes over and around in his hands.

Steve was recounting a Christmas when he was a young teenager and he received his first pair of Jordan shoes. And now that he’s 40, he just got his second pair and he’s just as excited. He will most definitely be one cool dad.

We made sure Hunter opened his shoes as his last present. By this point, it was late in the afternoon. We had eaten breakfast. We had gone to church. We had come home and eaten lunch. And the kids thought they were done opening gifts. And then we had a scavenger hunt for each one of them to find their last gift. Hunter started beaming at the thought there might still be a pair of shoes for him after all.

He did one small tear of the paper and saw the black box, and he knew.

He was one happy 14-year-old.

Hallie opened her last gift just after Hunter had opened his shoes. And as she opened the shipping box she too knew what her gift was and she just grinned at Hunter as she slid them out of the box.

She too was one happy girl.

When my kids were younger, I could not have imagined the day they would be asking for shoes for Christmas but here we are and Nike did not disappoint this year!

Christmas Eve 2022…

There is always so much pent-up excitement on Christmas eve – its a wonder that any of the kids ever fall asleep.

The last couple years it has rained on Christmas eve and put a damper on our neighborhood luminaries. So when we saw a clear forecast earlier in the week, we were looking forward to our Christmas eve tradition once again. Almost 200 homes all display white paper bags with candles lining their sidewalk.

We lit our candles before heading over to our friends home for dinner and chimes. We’ve hosted our friends the last two years as they have been remodeling and they were happy to host once again.

I’m happy to report, the older the kids get, the better our chimes sound. There were a few years that were pretty rough! I don’t want to brag, but we sound pretty good and the kids love it.

After, we drove through the neighborhood to take in the lights and luminaries and made a stop at the Christmas light show (aka the Christmas house in the neighborhood). Definitely one of our warmer and drier Christmas eves.

We ended up back at home and the kids wanted to give their sibling gifts. They drew names and Hallie took them all to the store to purchase their gifts. I have to admit – this is one of their favorite things about Christmas and I want nothing to do with it! I spend enough time managing and purchasing all the gifts, I’m grateful they manage this on their own. And because I don’t know what they get each other, it’s a fun surprise for me as they’re opening them. So many smiles, so many hugs, so much gratitude.

It’s the perfect appetizer to Christmas morning.

Steve read a book to the kids and after they plated some cookies and carrots, they were off to try and go to bed. 😉

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Gilbert Turkey Trot…Thanksgiving 2022…

November may be my busiest month of the year as I work to get the turkey trot details wrapped up and then the event itself. It ends up being a family affair as the whole family is involved.

The day before Thanksgiving, we have the packet pickup for the race. Hallie, Hunter and Bennett join me and help in different stations; checking people in and handing out t-shirts.

The morning of the race Hunter and a family friend joined my bright and early to finish last minute setting up. This is a trailer load of just half the donuts we had for the race.

I’m amazed that each and every year this race grows – which is awesome for our charities. As I started out on the family fun run with my family, it was such a fun sight to see people spilling out from the mall parking lot. I can’t remember the last time I ran a mile and I’m embarrassed to admit how out of shape I am!

For the first year ever, we didn’t have a stroller or a scooter and those little legs ran the whole race. There was a point where Briggs’ legs were tired and he was ready to walk. Talking to himself, he said, “I just really want that medal!” and those little legs started running again. I didn’t tell him he would have received the medal regardless if he walked or ran.

In years’ past, Hallie has seemed to disappear with her cousins when it was time to run, claiming they accidentally missed it. But not this year – she was a willing participant with her cousin Claire.

Last year Bennett and Hunter both really trained for the 5K – this year their only training has been soccer practice/games. Bennett was adamant that he would not be running this year and yet days before the race he said he would do it – he was going to earn a medal. I was so happy to see him cross the finish line and the only thing he said to me was, “I think I’m going to throw up. No, seriously, I’m just want to throw up. Luckily, he didn’t need one of the many buckets that were used more frequently than I would have imagined.

I was standing at the finish line taking pictures of everyone running through and somehow I missed Hunter, not even sure how that was possible but he ran right by me and I didn’t see him. He was proud of his 21 minute completion and even more proud he beat his uncle’s time who runs marathons.

Hallie was happy to be surrounded by cousins. So many of them have moved on to college so she really enjoys when they all come home to visit.

This is the crew behind the turkey trot. The crew that sits in meetings and determines just how many doughnuts we need this year and how many barricades we need for the finish line. Every person with a very specific skillset and role on the team. It’s an entertaining group to say the least.

After we put on a successful race, it was time to put on a successful dinner. Steve’s brother graciously hosted (as they have done so many years in the past) and every family did their part to contribute to the dinner.

After dinner, more family gathered for dessert and games. We spent the evening outside in competition and then brought the competition inside for some group games. There is never a dull moment with this group. People were winning money and others were jumping in the pool with all their clothes or serenading us with song.

As we climbed in the car later that night, we rode home listening to Christmas music recounting the days events. And then all the weeks of preparation caught up with me and I crashed – I was good for nothing Friday, but it was a good recovery day.

Halloween 2022…

Halloween 2022 is brought to you by In-N-Out! You may notice there are a few people missing from this family picture. That’s just how it worked out this year. The only time we dressed up was on Halloween and both Hallie and Hunter had plans outside of our neighborhood. So they were off the hook. We normally plan our family costumes far in advance and I just didn’t make it a priority this year – too many other things consuming my time and mental energy.

Last week, Bennett decided he wanted to be a hamburger for Halloween. So we shuffled things in the attic and found the burger costume which we all remember as much larger than it actually was. After he tried it on, he realized it didn’t fit like he hoped. But that led to the birth of a family costume idea. (I secretly hoped Hallie and Hunter’s plan might fall through and they would be able to join us as workers!)

Bennett was the milkshake – which was created with a laundry basket covered in felt, with flannel decals cut out and glued on with Aleene’s Fast Fusion Glue.

Cannon’s hamburger has been in the family ever since my Pottery Barn Kids days years ago. It’s come in handy more than a couple times. I made a white felt sleeve for the burger and cut out the logo from flannel and glued it on.

Briggs was the fries, made from 2″ upholstery foam from Joann’s, cut into strips and spray painted. His bag is felt with flannel decals glued on.

A little behind the scenes: I was trying to figure out how to sew the foam to the bag, and then I figured it was easier to attach the fries to Briggs, not the bag. I used a belt and cinched him up.

Steve and I were the easiest costumes. I made some red aprons, made paper name tags and picked up hats from In-N-Out.

We entertained the drive through for a bit while Bennett was the dancing milkshake and then the other kids joined in the dancing.

We attended the neighborhood block party where I caught my little fry eating a hot dog. 🙂

Each kid found their neighborhood buddies (only a few of which I caught pictures of) and as soon as they had inhaled their food they were ready to run through the neighborhood collecting candy. Figuring out what kids are trick-or-treating with who, with what adult is always a bit of a puzzle. The dads often end up back at the houses handing out candy while the moms herd groups of kids from house to house. I had the youngest group with two other moms and we were constantly counting kids and blocking the road so they couldn’t run across unassisted. The nice part about the youngest group is their legs are short and tire quickly. Makes for a short night. Before long, I was back at the house on the driveway with Steve and the kids were trading candy in the house.

Hunter was in another neighborhood with friends – the same group we hosted in our neighborhood last year. He was a packers fan and somehow was missing his cheesehead in this picture.

One of Hallie’s good friends has a birthday on Halloween so they gathered together for a fun dinner together. No costumes. No treats. Totally happy with life.

And a flashback to Halloween morning when Briggs had his school costume parade. Of course it was themed: Storybook. Which cancelled out his In-N-Out costume and we were lucky enough to find Bennett’s (And Cannon’s) Fox in Socks costume in the attic. The classic costume that gets more use than any of our fancy costumes I spend far more time on!

And that’s a wrap. Thanksgiving is basically over and Christmas shopping needs to be done.

4th of July…

I’ve got a whole summer of events and activities to catch up on but we’re going to start here – 4th of July. One of my favorite holidays because it’s fun and relaxing. We’ve celebrated this holiday at home, on vacation, with friends, with family, and even by ourselves.

I love the colors. I love the food. I love the fireworks – especially the sound. I love the weather (more so when we celebrate outside of Arizona!) I love patriotic songs, there’s always a few that make my eyes sweat just a little bit. 🙂 I love the celebration of our country and freedoms.

We had a beautiful day.

We spent the day at my brother’s house which of course meant there was family. And food. And fishing. And football. And fireworks. We covered all the F’s!

Broken decoration…

It has been years since I put any Easter decorations out. It seems like we’re always gone for spring break and Easter sneaks up on me and I just haven’t been good about getting decorations out. But this year, I was cleaning out the garage when I came across the Easter boxes and decided this was the year to pull it all out.

Briggs didn’t even know we had Easter decorations and he was obsessed with the ceramic bunny. Steve and I were out one night while Hallie babysat and the next morning I noticed the ears sitting next to the bunny.

I sent Hallie a text while she was at school to try and get to the bottom of the broken ears. This was her response.

You’d think I would’ve tossed the broken decoration. But I didn’t. It stayed on our counter all the way through Easter. First, so I could question Briggs about what happened to it and watch him squirm. Second, is there any better holiday than Easter to have a broken decoration sit on the counter?! It was a gentle reminder the whole season that we’re all a little broken, which is why Easter is so important and why we need a Savior.