Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A little more Christmas FUN!

 On Sunday night, Shane's sister and her family came over to celebrate Christmas with us. We usually get together on Christmas day, but because they had other obligations, we had to wait until Sunday to celebrate.
 Sophie absolutely ADORES her cousin, Makayla, and they always have so much fun together!!
They are just two peas in a pod!
It won't be long before my sweet niece, Kaitlyn (who turns ONE next week) will be joining in on all their girly mischief fun too!
We all enjoyed brownies and ice cream sundaes for dessert and then had fun exchanging gifts.
Sallie gave Hudson a super hero craft kit, and before long we had a house full of little super hero's running around!
Monday morning, we took our crew to the YMCA pool to swim. 
My kids LOVE the water and a winter swim is always a welcomed treat!!
And speaking of treats...a quick stop by Dunkin' Donut on the way to the pool was a fun way to start our day.
 The kids had an absolute BLAST splashing, jumping, swimming, and diving at the pool! 
They would have stayed ALL day long if they could, but we had special dinner plans with our wonderful friend, Charlotte.
Since Charlotte is home from college on Christmas break, we are trying to soak up as much time with her as we can.
We all went out to dinner at the Olive Garden and then came back to our house to exchange Christmas gifts.
Charlotte blessed the kids with some AWESOME Clemson memorabilia. 
She is definitely turning them into die hard fans;) 
Now whenever my kids see the colors orange or purple...they immediately think...CLEMSON!
I LOVE it!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A little of this and a little of that

The weeks leading up to Christmas were C-R-A-Z-Y busy for us. FUN--yes, but crazy none-the-less! There were so many places to be, so many parties to attend, and so many last minute things to do. No matter how much I got done in the day, my to do list seemed longer when I went to bed than it did when I woke up that morning.
Now that Christmas is behind us, the rush has settled down considerably. Shane took these last two weeks of the year off of work, so he's home with all of us enjoying some well deserved R & R too.
A little down time for this crew was exactly what the doctor ordered!
Most days, we've just stayed in our jammies until well past noon.

We've played games, watched movies, and enjoyed lots of snuggles on the couch. 
The girls have had so much fun baking some treats for us in their new easy bake oven too.
They've made several different kinds of goodies and done a fantastic job!
When we finally did decided to get out of our cozy jammies and get dressed, our adventures haven't taken us too far from home. 
We've had a great time just playing outside with our neighbor friends, 
 or we've headed to our local park for an afternoon of fun. 
We've visited the mall...
 where the kids had fun watching the fish at the Bass Pro Shop.
We also went to the dollar movie theater to see Despicable Me 2.

One evening last week, we met Shane's dad for dinner at our favorite pizza restaurant. Then we headed over to the retirement center where Shane's sweet grandparents live. 
We enjoyed a wonderful visit there and it was such a blessing to spend some quality time with them.
 We've so enjoyed our time together and are so thankful to have one more week of Christmas vacation ahead of us. 
TOGETHER...it's a great place to be!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Morning, 2013

After arriving home from my parents house Christmas Eve night, the kids quickly went to work preparing our house for Santa's big arrival! Reindeer food was sprinkled in the yard, a snack was put out for Santa, and farewells were made to Sam, our beloved elf on the shelf! Soon everyone was nestled all snug in their beds, and within minutes, visions of sugar plums were dancing in their heads;)
The morning dawned bright and early (like 6:00am) for this crew, as everyone was UP and excited to see the surprises Santa had left for them under the tree.
As the kids bounded downstairs and headed into the living room, it was clear to everyone that Santa had indeed come!!!
Snowy footprints were left by the fireplace, the glass of milk -once full- was now empty, and only remnants of the snack left for him remained on the plate. Santa also left a very sweet note reminding the kids the true reason we celebrate Christmas. He told them gifts are FUN, but the best present ever given was born in a manger on a starry night so long ago.
Jesus is the reason we celebrate
 Jesus is what Christmas is ALL about!!!!
Thanks, Santa;)
It was the PERFECT reminder for all of us before we dove into the presents Santa so graciously left behind!
Addy-Kate received her beloved Dora bike...
Riley got his guitar...
 And Hudson received his Jake and the Neverland Pirate ship.
Corban got his rip stick and some clothes he wanted...

And Sophie received her Hippopotamus;) 
Yes...she REALLY did ask Santa for a hippo for Christmas this year! I'm NOT even kidding;) I'm sure the request left Santa scratching his head--because it did for Shane and I!
Sophie's very favorite song this holiday season was "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas"!
 She can sing it word for word. 
Every time we get in the van to go somewhere, Sophie begs to hear that song. 
We've probably listened to it at least 1000 times since Thanksgiving. 
Again...not kidding;)
I think Santa did a GREAT job filling Sophie's Christmas wish, because instead of a real hippo, Santa gave her Doc McStuffin's hippo friend, Hallie;)
Sophie was THRILLED;)
Oh, it's fun to GET presents, but it's also fun to GIVE too.
Sophie blessed Shane and I with a BEAUTIFUL red ornament she made at school this year. It's been under the tree for over a week now, but Sophie was determined to make us wait to Christmas morning before opening it;)
And Corban gave Shane a super cool coaster he made for him at school too!
Oh, and both boys blessed me with some of their rainbow loom creations;)
So sweet!
The "littles" also got new spin-brushes in their stockings too, which I believe was their MOST favorite gift of all!! HA!!
Christmas breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, sausage, cinnamon rolls, and fresh fruit.  
We all gathered around the table together on Christmas morning, lit a candle and sang,
 "Happy Birthday to Jesus!"
It was the PERFECT way to end our joy-filled morning!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A VERY Merry Christmas Eve, 2013

We hope and pray you have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas.
Our celebrating started Tuesday afternoon as we headed to the Christmas Eve service at church. This is hands-down one of the most beautiful services of the entire year.
It just sets the tone for the rest of our Christmas celebrations.
HE came! HE died! HE rose! HE lives!
God WITH us!
The HOPE of Christmas!
Immediately after church, we headed to my parents house where the real FUN begins!
With presents, paper, and the people we hold dear...EVERYWHERE...

  our time together is NEVER dull!
It's crazy, it's busy...
 And it's THE most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Riley is EIGHT!!!!

 Eight years ago, the Lord blessed our family beyond measure when he gave us this amazing little boy! He is my perfectionist, my snuggler, my worrier, my baker, my reader, my speller, my musician, my artist and my love! 
Sam, our elf from the North Pole, helped us make Ri's day super special by decorating his bedroom door with streamers and balloons. He also brought us everything we needed to make Riley's birthday cupcakes. 
What a sweet elf;)
This birthday was a little extra special for our Ri too.  You see, a few weeks ago, we started to talk to him about what he wanted to do for his birthday. We had a idea of a really special birthday gift that we knew Ri would enjoy, but couldn't swing a party AND this special gift too. So...we presented him with a choice. He could have a fun party and invite his friends, OR he could fore go the party this year and receive a gift we knew he would absolutely LOVE. 
Well, after thinking about it for a day or two, Riley chose the gift. 
The gift was a mini ipad. Shane's sweet boss had upgraded to a new one and sold us her old one for Riley. 
Oh.My.Goodness!!!! I wish you could have heard the squeals of delight that went with that face above.
 He was over the moon!!!!
 After lunch, we enjoyed those yummy cupcakes Sam so kindly brought!
Well, I wish I could tell you the rest of Riley's special day was just as wonderful as it began, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

A few days ago Sophie had the stomach bug. 
And just a few hours after these above pictures were taken, that little bug took down the rest of our family too.
I'll spare you the details, but you can only imagine what it's like to have SIX people come down with that kind of bug at the EXACT same time. 
Yeah...it wasn't pretty.
The ONLY blessing is that we ALL have had it now and won't have to worry about being sick on Christmas! 
So if you've noticed that I've been posting a lot this weekend...now you know why. 
We're all stuck at home...recovering from that mess;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Home for the Holidays

 So, I've been meaning to do a post all month long about our "home for the holidays". Not that I think it's really anything special--in fact-- this year our goal was to keep things as simple as we could. However, this Christmas we also decided to switch things up a bit and had fun changing out some of our "older" decorations to create a more updated look. You may or may not remember, but the walls in our home used to be painted a Kermit the frog green. And even though we re-painted it over a year ago in a much more subdued color, most of our Christmas decorations still went with our BRIGHT green walls. 
The first thing we tackled was our tree. I chatted with Shane a bit about how I visioned it looking, and he (bless his heart) went to the store and picked up the decorations we needed to make my vision a reality.  
Our tree has always been a modge-podge of bright and colorful ornaments-with most of those ornaments being made by the kids. 
This year, I decided to go with a little more "formal" look. 
And, please don't worry--- all those beloved hand-made ornaments are proudly displayed on the little tree upstairs.
Our mantle really isn't that much different this year. The only change I made was that I did not add my green garland, but made this pom-pom coffee filter garland instead.
I saw this idea in a Country Living magazine and fell in love with it!
Easy, simple, and different.

Oh, and while we're talking about "Country Living"...
this was another idea I came across while perusing the magazine.
A simple, but CUTE way to wrap gifts...
I monogrammed scarves for all the kids teachers this year, and thought this was a fun way to wrap their gifts. 
All you do is cut the shape you desire out of kraft paper, sew the shape together on the machine, leave a small opening to insert the gift, and then stitch it shut. 
Easy-peasy, right!?!
 Another fun change we made this year was the way we display our Christmas cards. I used to tape them up on the pantry door, but this year my running partner, Stacy, suggested hanging them on twine with clothes pins instead.
I'm loving it. 
My friend, Melanie, mentioned in her family Christmas letter this year just how special receiving  cards can be. I couldn't agree with her more. We LOVE going to the mail box all month long and look forward to opening our cards each day.
I enjoy seeing my kids walk up to this display at random times during the day and catch them staring at the faces of friends and family both near and far.

 My front porch this Christmas has been a work in progress. I've not paid too much attention to it in years past, but this year I decided I wanted to dress it up a little for the season. I looked up "Christmas porches" on pinterest and started getting ideas.
This was my main inspiration.
My goal was not to purchase anything new, but only use what I already had on hand!
With a little paint and a little patience, my porch has come to life.
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. 
It's fun, festive and looks welcoming.

And as the old saying goes...there really is no place like HOME for the holidays!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas is a time to P-A-R-T-Y

AND...oh.my.goodness have we partied HARD this week. 
First up was Riley's birthday celebration at school. Ri's actual birthday is not until Sunday, but we chose to celebrate with his classmates on Wednesday during lunch. He picked Kristy Kreme donuts to share with his friends...a great choice I must say;)
On Thursday, Hudson and I were back up at the school to help out with Corban's winter celebration. We put together a fun snowman theme for his party and I think the kids had a GREAT time! Corban has such a sweet class this year and it was fun hanging out with him and his friends.
On Friday, we headed BACK up to school for Riley's winter celebration. "Snowmen" were the theme of his party too and all the kids seemed to have a blast together!
And if you think that wasn't enough partying for one week...you would be right;) 
Friday afternoon, my sweet friend, Juli, invited us over to celebrate the beginning of Christmas break!
Juli is soooo creative and she pulled together the cutest "reindeer" party for us to enjoy!
You wanna know what the highlight of the party was...
 searching for "reindeer droppings" in Miss Juli's backyard. 
Yes, that's right...
The kids had the best time pretending to be Santa's little helpers. Their job was to help him clean up after those messy reindeer;)
CUTE, huh?!?!
Of course at every "reindeer" party, you must make reindeer food.  This year, Santa's reindeer will enjoy a treat which consists of oatmeal, raisins, potato chips, flying powder, and red and silver sparkles.
And what's a reindeer party with out fun crafts, and silly reindeer games?!?
Thanks Robinson family for a wonderful afternoon and a GREAT kick-start to our Christmas break!!!!
And after enjoying their yummy treat, I know Santa's reindeer will thank you too!