Saturday, December 31, 2011


We rang in 2012 with a pretty mild evening at home.  With kids not feeling 100% and having had a busy couple of weeks, it was nice to relax as a family and take it easy.  We watched movies, had appetizers and treats, and played games.

Thanks to late naps the kids made it all the way to midnight, when we toasted with sparkling cider and cheered loudly. 

Alex was a happy boy with bubbly cider in his sippy cup.

 Happy Jake, sad Jake.  He can be very mercurial sometimes.  

 All's better at midnight though.  Here's to a very Happy New Year!

 Alex provided the entertainment with ottoman tumbling.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Chris and Jen Visit & Rob Endures Another Birthday

We had a fabulously fun winter break this year, because my dear brother Chris and his wonderful wife Jen came to visit us.  It was their first time coming out here and it was fun to show them our house, the University, and our town.  It has been such a mild winter but they were lucky enough to be here for our first snowfall and experience some of the bitter cold.  We walked on the frozen coulee, had some good sushi (yes, in the Midwest!) downtown, talked and talked, and watched the kids use uncle Chris as a jungle gym.  It was so fun to have them visit and we hope they will come again!
Jen helps out in the kitchen.

 We all spent a lot of time wrestling with the 3D puzzle.

Robert got to spend at least part of his day playing guitar - Chris, why aren't you singing?!

 Beware, the balloon ninja!!!

 Jen and Haley made an impromptu dash around the back yard in the snow.  Crazy girls.

 Haley and Jen - H was quite enamored of her smart, funny and gorgeous aunt Jenny.

 Yep, there are certainly enough candles on there to warm up anyone's fingers.  Happy Birthday, dear Rob!

 Jen and Chris.  Such good sports to wear the hats.  :)  We wish they could have stayed another week - we miss you already!!

 Haley and Jake picked the card...

 Oh the joys of helium balloons!

Happy Birthday!  Here's to another great year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning 2011

At our house, Santa leaves the stockings upstairs on the landing so that we can open them first before going down to the tree.  It's very nice of him because it gives mom and dad a few minutes to wake up while the kids get to open a few things.  I think stockings are SO fun and I know that if I were Santa I would do a bang-up job at them, collecting things for months in advance.  Santa must be the same way because the stockings are always stuffed ridiculously full.

Jake goes from sound asleep to wide awake in about 60 seconds flat - even faster on Christmas morning.  He came to our bed bright and early this year and when we wouldn't budge, he woke up his sister.  Between the two of them they dragged us out of bed and we got started on the stockings. 

Jake was hoping for LOTS of Legos this year and Santa did not disappoint.  The first set was in his stocking - do you think he's excited?

 Haley takes a more measured, calm approach.  However she did jump up and down when she found her very own library card in her stocking - I haven't seen her that excited about a present in a long time!

 Alex went straight for the goodies - everything had to be opened and consumed right away.

After stockings, Mom heads downstairs to turn on lights and get the camera ready.  Then the kids get to come down all together and see what Santa left out for them.  I have to say that I had NO idea how fun being a parent would be on holidays.  I can think of few things that are more enjoyable than watching the excitement and joy on their faces when they experience the magic of Christmas morning.  It makes all the work of baking, cleaning, decorating and prepping for Santa worth every second.
 Jake wasted no time setting up his new Lego game.

 And Alex got right to work on his trains. 

 Since Santa doesn't wrap the kids' gifts at our house, they usually spend a few hours playing with their new toys before a single gift from under the tree gets unwrapped.  Mom and Dad spend the time assembling, inserting batteries, napping, and fixing the eggs-orange rolls breakfast.  Eventually we got around to opening gifts.
He is really the quintessential Christmas-morning kid.  Jumping, squealing, screaming with joy.  He fully enjoys it and it is SO fun to watch.
 Haley is not loud and crazy, but her excitement and happiness always shines in her eyes.  She was thrilled to get her very own digital camera.

 One of the things that *is* more enjoyable than watching them open their own gifts is watching them give gifts to each other.  They spend so much time carefully deciding what the others would like, wrapping them, and pointing them out to each other under the tree.  These kids love each other so much and it definitely shows.  Haley was very excited to give Alex his Thomas pillow pet. 

 As always we were so spoiled by our loved ones and are thankful for your generosity and love sent from afar.  We miss you tremendously!

 In an effort to "prove" Santa visited our house we sprinkled flour in front of the fireplace.  Imagine our surprise and wonder when we saw big footprints in it the next day!

It's been a big day for this little one.  Merry Christmas, all!

The Night Before Christmas

We always give the kids one present each on Christmas Eve, and it's always the same thing - new pajamas and slippers.  They know what it is but are still excited to get to open something.  And besides, in our climate slippers and warm pj's are pretty nice to have!

 Jake checks out his "grown-up" slipper-clad feet.
 Alex tries on his new Fireman slippers.
 Mmm...I hope Santa's hungry!
I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that SANTA had come!  So I snapped a picture of the stockings all lined up before they got demolished in the morning.