I was nervous about having the kids home from school for a full week before Christmas – the energy is already a little high and I wasn’t sure how to keep them occupied. But it’s actually working out awesome and we saved some of our traditional activities for this week which is keeping everyone entertained.

Luckily, we have an amazingly ambitious mother in our neighborhood and I’m forever grateful for her energy. For the last couple years, she’s hosted a gingerbread making party and it is no small task. This year she had 50 neighbor kids in her front yard covered in frosting. Not to mention she went to all the work to hot glue all 50 houses so the kids had secure foundations to decorate. This is probably one of my kids very favorite Christmas activities – and if you could see the mess left behind it’s no wonder it’s most mom’s nightmare. Thank heavens for nice weather so this can be an outdoor party.

Bass Pro Santa…

We made our annual visit to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa. As our kids get older, the oldest ones are still such good sports and make sure the experience is just as fun for their younger siblings as it was for them as a kid. They help keep the magic alive.

Briggs and Cannon made sure to get their letters to Santa in the mailbox. Cannon wrote the first part of the letter and Briggs’ followed it up with his own request. Both are tender and I love Briggs’ spelling of karaoke machine. 🙂

We finished our Bass Pro experience with a nice friendly game of hide and seek in which we spent a good long while searching for Hallie and Hunter who landed the perfect hiding spot.

Christmas break…

We have had my brother come visit us after Christmas for the last several years. We love having them and we have a routine of all the things we know we can fit it into the week between Christmas and New Years. For one reason or another, they weren’t able to join us this year. So we decided to make a last minute, quick trip to California – during what was quite possibly the coldest and rainiest week of the year! Several times the week before, we were tempted to cancel all together because the forecast was so gloomy. But in the end we went and we made the best out of a very rainy situation.

The best decision we made was inviting some friends to join – they have an RV and were happy to join in our rainy fun. We were very strategic about our activities. We tracked the weather so closely and as soon as there was a rain-free window – we were outside, bundled up! We spent a morning riding bikes along the pier. We could have done this for hours, but our window was short and we didn’t want to end up drenched. We started out with Briggs on his little bike and before we even left the parking lot, we switched him to a tandem which was such a smart move on our part – his little legs would’ve had a hard time keeping up.

One evening *before dinner* we went to Balboa Island to grab a frozen banana/treat. As you can imagine, nobody was overly hungry for dinner. And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get how people rave over the frozen banana! They’re hard to eat and they hurt my teeth – but the kids didn’t seem to mind. Dip anything in sprinkles and they’re a fan.

We had access to a small enclosed dinghy boat which kept us entertained and warm for hours. Even when it was rainy outside, we could take it out and put around the bay. One evening we took the boat out and enjoyed all the Christmas lights on the houses bordering the bay – it was fun to spot the houses that had received awards for their display. A few of the displays were pretty fancy. We learned that they have a boat parade before Christmas where everyone decorates their boats and several were still decorated and cruising around the bay.

The kids wanted to play in the ocean and no matter how many times we told them just how cold the water was, they were convinced they were going to go skim board and play in the waves. It was a brief excursion to the beach (when Briggs managed to get fully wet) but we did manage to roast some hot dogs and make smores and we would’ve stayed longer but we ran out of wood and we were too cold without a fire.

The kids rode the small but fast ferris wheel at Balboa fun zone. We must have caught the only two hours it was open for the day due to rain – because we didn’t see it running much the whole time we were there.

And when the rain totally shut us down – there were always puzzles. And Jack’s Surf Shop. And games. And movies. And tacos.

We packed in a surprising amount of fun for just how miserable the weather was. Literally two days after we left it was beautiful and sunny once again. I guess we’ll have to head back another time and hopefully not pack everyone’s comfy!

Happy wall 2021…

I don’t cry when I take the tree down, but I hate losing our happy wall of friends’ and family cards.

I’ve seen a couple of fun ideas floating around the internet of what to do with these cards once they come off the wall. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll end up doing with them, but for right now they’re still on the fridge. They are always my last Christmas decoration to come down.

I like when friends come over and they ask about some of the cards. I get to do a little rundown of what makes that family so special, how we know them and why they’re on our fridge. And sometimes there’s a connection we didn’t even know existed.

I’m forever grateful for the many families that have crossed our paths and made it such a delightful road to travel.

Christmas Card 2021…

Christmas cards might be one of my favorite Christmas traditions – sending them and receiving them. Some years, we have a plan in advance – other times, we are fighting against time to get it printed before Christmas. This year, we were lucky to get them done!

Let me give you a little background info on how this card came to be – because I’m often asked how we come up with these. I had hoped to use our Halloween costumes on our card (if you’ve been around for some time, you’ll remember we’ve done this many times) but there were some in the family that weren’t loving the idea of being in spandex and masks for our card this year. I was busy with the Turkey Trot and didn’t leave much time for any creative process. Steve sat down with me one evening as we brainstormed what represented our family this year. And he came up with the phrase. With the phrase/theme of the card nailed down, I immediately knew I could make it fun and base it around candy. I spent the next morning running around town picking up candy/treats.

We had already created a spinning card a few years back when we wrapped our kids in lights so I knew I had a template that the printer was familiar with – so we decided a spinning card was the winner. That evening, in a matter of one hour, I ransacked the kids closets to find clothing in the colors of the rainbow and I shot each kid individually and Hallie shot my photos. (Believe it or not, I picked the colors of the card before I went through their closets and by some small miracle, we had clothing that matched every color – except one, in which we photoshopped it to match, and even when I’ve had people guess which one was photoshopped, they don’t guess correctly!) Steve was gone for the evening so we caught him the next morning before he flew out for a work trip and by that evening the card was done and ready to send to print. So within 72 hours we had gone from no ideas, to a completed card. It rarely works like that – but the stars aligned for us this year.

It was fun to see the finished card hanging in the homes of friends and family and to see who was being featured! Of course, I had a few children (I won’t name any names) who liked to rotate the image to them in every house they visited.