Thursday, February 19, 2015


Christmas Break - this is going to be a long one!! The week before Christmas break, our fun really began. Mama Kay and Papa came into town on Monday of that week and Aunt Theresa came into town on Wednesday! Plus, it was a really fun week of Christmas parties and concerts at school. So, let's get started. At our school, Kindergarten puts on their very own special Christmas concert in the Church. They practice for months and sing various songs for about 25 minutes. It is absolutely adorable and Juliette was so excited. Here she is walking in with her reindeer stuff on!

She did amazing, as expected, and we have it all on video.  But she knew those songs and motions and really enjoyed performing them.  It was so cute!

Afterward there was a reception for the kids and families.  Here she is with one of her good friends.

And her amazing teacher, that she absolutely loves (and tells her that she loves her all the time!).
The next day was the all school Christmas concert.  Ben got to sing in this concert twice - once with his class and once with the Bulldog Chorus.  The songs were great and the concert was a lot of fun!

Juliette got to perform in this concert as well - she is in the middle with the Santa headband on!
And Abbey right in front doing an awesome job too - she loves being on stage (which is funny considering how shy she is in person).
 Post concert cuteness...
 Because the concert was in the afternoon, I had a babysitter come take care of Matthew so he could nap and nobody would have to stay home with him and miss the concert.  I have a wonderful woman who comes to watch him for me sometimes so I can go volunteer at school for the other kids' classes.  She is a grandma and my friend's mom and Matthew loves her.  She is so sweet that she brought Christmas cookies over for the kids with their initials on them!  Love her!
 Matthew really enjoyed his cookie!
We had a lot of fun with Aunt Theresa in town.  One of the fun activities was to decorate gingerbread houses!  We bought one kit thinking they could share it, but it turned out that the house was tiny (despite looking rather large on the box).  Luckily, we had some graham crackers and icing on hand and were able to construct houses for each kid so everyone got to decorate their own.
Ben's was unique - it included a marshmallow dog peeing on a fire hydrant...sigh...
Abbey's was beautiful - check out that Christmas tree she decorated!
And Juliette's was very colorful.  It was a very fun evening!  Thanks for all the help Aunt Theresa!
 Unfortunately, we have a BAD dog...
Having Aunt Theresa over means lots of cuddles!
Caroline and Aunt Domi came up too.
What a big boy!

 The Scout Christmas Party was at Orbit Skate Center this year, so Aunt Domi, Caroline, and Aunt Theresa went along and had fun too!  We were all going to go, but as I changed Matthew's diaper right before leaving, he was rubbing his eyes and seemed a bit cranky, so I decided to stay home and put him right to bed.  I hated to miss the fun, but he fell asleep immediately so it was the right decision.  But, it looks like they all had a blast!

 Apparently Juliette would only skate if she was holding Aunt Domi's hand.
One of the things Abbey asked for Christmas was a new blanket that fully covered her.  Well, Aunt Theresa made her that blanket and it is well loved.  So, Aunt Theresa made her a new bigger blanket and she absolutely loves it.  And she was thrilled because with some extra material, she made a matching blanket for her American Girl doll too :)
And a new one for Juliette and her doll too. 
We had Aunt Theresa stay in Ben's room since we had Mama Kay and Papa in our guest room, which meant the kids got to have a sleep over!  They actually love this and do it sometimes during the summer (or on non school days), so it was fun for them.  Aren't they cute!
Morning time cuddles.

I haven't mentioned that Abbey did basketball for the first time and really enjoyed it.  Here is an action shot of her at her last game.

Aunt Theresa and Matthew had fun getting to know each other too!

That weekend, the cousins from Louisville and Uncle David came up to visit!  Here are all the girl cousins with Aunt Theresa!
 And Matthew got to spend some time with his Godfather!
 He really likes playing with Andrew.
 ALL the cousins!
 Then it was time to jump on the trampoline!  Ready, Set...
 They all went to play mini golf and had a lot of fun together (I stayed back at the house while Matthew napped).
 She's got the eye of the tiger!
 Fun times with Aunt Theresa and the cousins!
Then it was back to the house to have some baby races - I think Matthew won!

Mean while, Ben played Tim in some chess.
And Matthew had a fun time looking at Lily over the gate.
Then it was time for us to go home and say Goodbye to Aunt Theresa.  Thanks so much for coming to visit us - we really enjoyed your visit and miss you so much!!

Back at our house, we had a few days of Christmas prep before the big day.  We had to fit in all of our favorite traditions, so we started with baking cookies.  We made chocolate chip cookies with Santa and sugar cookies to decorate for fun.
The sugar cookies are looking better and better each year!
Nice one Abbey!
Something new this year - we made pretzels, which was both fun and delicious!

We played some family games, such as Monopoly.
We got into our PJ's, got some hot chocolate, and went Christmas light looking, which is always a family favorite!
And Juliette enjoyed dressing up in various festive outfits.

Every year the kids get to go to a "Santa's Secret Workshop" at school where we send in some money and they get to pick out gifts for their families.  Unfortunately it only goes up to second grade, so Ben was too old to participate this year.  I took him to the dollar store and gave him $2 per person to spend.  I must say he ended up with nicer gifts than what the girls brought home!  But, they did enjoy picking things out for each other and could not wait until Christmas to give their gifts.  Here is Matthew chewing on one of his toys that Juliette got for him!
Matthew was waiting for Christmas!

Then, it was finally almost here!!!  Christmas Eve starts off the Christmas holiday by going to Church.  This year, we signed Ben and Abbey up to be in the Angels and Shepherds Mass and I also signed our family up to be greeters at Church.  We went to the 5:00 Mass, but here are some pictures of everybody looking festive before Mass.
Love these pictures of my sweet children.

Our family.  Unfortunately we did not get a picture of all of us, including Mama Kay and Papa.  I don't know why.  We seemed to run out of time and didn't come back to picture taking after Mass.  Bummer :(
I wasn't sure how the kids would feel about passing out programs before Church, but they got really into it, which was wonderful to see.  Although Ben is sort of smirking in this picture, he took it very seriously and enjoyed it.

Initially, I only signed Ben up to do the program because Abbey was too shy.  Then, we found out that Ben was randomly chosen to play Joseph!  At first, he did not want to do it.  But we were able to convince him (with the help of Mama Kay).  And then, he actually asked Abbey if she would be in it too and stand up there with him.  It melted my heart.  Ben and Abbey don't always get along, so to see him ask her and to see Abbey overcome her initial fear of doing it to help him out, was in itself a Christmas present to me!

He was a bit embarrassed, but smiled and did awesome.
And then my angel Abbey joined him on stage.  She was sure to stand right next to him, which was cute (and good for pictures).

It was a wonderful Mass.

I honestly wasn't sure Abbey was going to go up there at first.  She didn't like her dress and was upset about that and also didn't like the headband.  I thought for sure she was not going to do it, but she went up when they called for the angels and did an awesome job.  So proud of her!
Then it was home for some dinner and to get ready for Santa.  First step, get on matching PJ's!

Next step, put out cookies.  Thanks for helping Matthew!

We usually have the stockings hung up the railing of our stairs, but the kids moved them here for Santa to find them easily.
Next step...get sleepy...check!  Then it was off to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
Up early the next morning but waiting to come down the stairs.
Come on Dad, let us come down!!

Santa came!!!
 The kids were so excited!
Matthew seemed to enjoy his presents.  In true baby fashion, the first present he opened, he immediately left and crawled over to where the wrapping paper had been thrown! 
He really liked his new toys though.
Abbey wasn't feeling great at first, so she rested on the couch while opening her stocking. 

Matthew opening up his stocking, with a little help.
Despite the gingerbread house debacle, Belle was pretty good this year (better than last year anyway), so Santa left her a new bed (which she sleeps on ever night now) and even a toy.  Who knows what she would have gotten if she hadn't eaten the gingerbread houses!  Try again next year, Belle!
Ben opening up some cool gifts.
Juliette thrilled with new American Girl stuff.
The kids got this awesome coloring house from Mimi - thank you!
We opened it up and they had a lot of fun with it before even getting the coloring stuff out!
Daddy helping Matthew open another present!
Paul got a lot of warm weather clothes for his walk to the train station.  This coat has been amazing!
You could use this toy as an instrument, or something to eat.

After opening gifts and having breakfast, we went over to the Acuff's for Christmas dinner.  This is where we gave Mama Kay and Papa their presents.
Some matching cousins!

We tried to get a good picture of them all, which is nearly impossible to get everyone smiling and looking at the camera.  But we got pretty close.

Back at home, Abbey read Matthew one of his new books.
Such a good big sister.
Abbey was very excited to get a new American Girl doll - Julie.
And Juliette got her first American Girl doll - Isabel - and a matching outfit!
The girls also got this cool new Barbie Dream House!
Mama Kay brought up this outfit that her mother, Gandy, sewed for Paul when he was little.  It was so cute on Matthew!
Abbey thought so too.

Mama Kay and Papa went back to their home, but we had such a great visit with them.  Thank you for coming up to spend Christmas with us this year!  Merry Christmas to all those we could not be with on Christmas too!

While we mostly stayed home to play with new toys, we did venture out a few times during the break.  I took the kids to see the new Annie movie (only after they promised they would watch the old one with me too).  The theater was nicely decorated and the kids (mainly the girls) wanted pictures by the tree.

Another thing we did was go to our favorite museum, the Museum of Science and Industry.  We last minute called up Aunt Domi to see if they wanted to meet us down there, and we were so glad that Aunt Domi and Caroline decided to come down too.  Matthew really enjoyed it.

 Fun science!

 The kids and Daddy in a wind tunnel!
 Happy baby!
 What climbers!
 I always call Abbey my monkey...
 Hard to see, but here are all 5 kids in front of the big Christmas tree.
 Then we went into water world and there was a whole area for babies!  Matthew really enjoyed splashing in the water.

 And crawling around in the climbing structures!  It was a good chance for him to get out of his stroller and play!

 He really enjoyed looking at the lights on the ground too.

We all had a lot of fun - thanks for coming down to meet us Aunt Domi and Caroline!

Whew, that was a long one!  Now I am up to New Year's, which will be next.  Then I will finally be into 2015!  I am still working hard to catch up!