Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Advent Adventures: Christmas Travels

We did a little traveling
this Christmas season,
much to my husband's displeasure...
When he was growing up,
his family would spend the day
at home,
relaxing and enjoying their 
Christmas gifts.

My family...
We would open presents,
then be on the road before lunch,
headed to my paternal grandmother's,
about 3 hours southeast.
We would arrive there shortly after lunch.
Visit for a few hours,
then load back up,
head about 2 hours 
due west
to my maternal grandmother's house.
Then spend the night there along with 
the rest of the families.
(typically 12-15 people total
in a one story, 3 bedroom/2 bath house)
We would spend some of the next day there,
then head home again.

So staying home over Christmas...
not a fan.
I am home 24/7 now.
And I love to be on the go!
So off we went!

We spent the night at my folks
Christmas night since they were on the way to the next stop.

The next day,
we loaded up 
and headed to my maternal grandmother's.
(my paternal grandmother passed away when Rico was just a few 
months old, but she got to meet him and
I will never ever ever forget the sight of 
seeing her holding him for the first time)

We headed to my grandmother's
and some more of the family.

Post eating nap time with Aunt Melanie again.
(she is pretending to be asleep here)

I can't remember what the eye patch thing was for...

The big boys got 
Catapult kits...
so since we were traveling,
we decided to bring some of our new
stuff with us.

Daddy and Jackson worked on the catapults!

Then Aunt Gloria brought each of the 
littles a sweet game.

We played Ants in the Pants.
It is very cute to see how adults
can play down to the kids...
and act just like kids themselves!

As you can imagine,
when you have 15+ people in a
3 bedroom house,
the sleeping arrangements get kinda tight...

They weren't *this* tight for the entire night...

We spent a day or so at my grandmothers, 
which is about 3 hours southwest of my mom's.
We are about an hour south east of my mom's.
We drove back to my mom's,
dropped her off,
then headed on to our house.

The next day,
we finished loading up the camper,
then headed about 3 1/2 hours northeast
to see my husband's mom and sister.

We stayed at a campground that
my husband grew up visiting...
just never in the winter!
Most of the bath houses had been winterized
(which we didn't know)!

We stayed for a couple of days.
We went fishing,
played games,

ate ice cream,

went to the movies,

met the newest member of the family
(sister in law's new puppy!)

and just relaxed!

We decided to stay through New Year's Eve,
and leave New Year's Day...

Because it was chilly,
we were using our propane to 
heat the camper and to cook with!
Unbeknownst to us...
we were running low on propane...

Then on New Year's Eve,
at about 9pm
we realized that the heat was
no longer working...
We were out of propane!

We had to scramble!
No where was open!!!

Long story, but we 
wound up borrowing a tank
for the night.

as if that wasn't enough excitement for one night...
Jackson either ate something 
got a bug...
but he felt horrible
would up getting sick!
That is not fun ever...
but even less fun,
in a camper...
in the winter.

We had fun,
but I was ready to go home!

On a completely different note,
I learned that there are vintage tags
for vehicles 
and that apparently this
Toyota Cressida 
is consider a vintage vehicle!

I am not sure why I found that funny
and photo worthy...
but I did.

And here we are at the end of April 2014,
and I have FINALLY finished posting about
all of the excitement in 2013!

We have finally made it to 2014!!

Whoo hoo!!!

I can't wait to tell you what we have been up to so far...
seeing as I am STILL 4 months behind.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Advent Adventures: Christmas Day

There is no "normalcy" to 
Christmas at this point 
with all of the moving we have done lately,
ever since our oldest celebrated his
second Christmas...
we have told our entire family,
that we will be home
on Christmas morning.
Santa would be visiting 
our house.
I was not excited about
dragging Santa to and from
different houses
and dealing with that fun.

Many people do it...
and I am impressed.
We will wake up in our own beds,
unless something CRAZY happens.

Then when the kids get older,
we are TOTALLY
pulling a 
Christmas with the Kranks
the hubs and I are jetting off to somewhere
Just like we did our first Christmas as a married couple.

This past year we did start what I hope is a new
we went out to a decent restaurant 
after Christmas Eve Mass!
We have never done that before.
But the kids were great
we really enjoyed ourselves
I didn't have to cook
it was one less thing I had to do that night!

It was a nice treat!

Santa arrived

And it is always mind blowing how long it takes
to get ready for Santa...

vs how long it takes them to 
tear through everything!!

 This year we went all out...
and gave our kids...

the world!!!

we didn't go all out.
We go a little more "out" 
than I think necessary,
times 4...
but thankfully
Christmas only happens once a year!

We had our traditional 
Christmas morning breakfast items:

Homemade Monkey Bread
I tried something different this year
and made it with cinnamon rolls
and it was not as much of a hit 
as the traditional kind.

We also have sausage pinwheels.
Things we can grab between present openings.

Rico got a Kindle

Jackson got a knife to help me cook
(this one was pitiful, so he uses a real one when he helps)

Then I bet you can't guess what this gift is...

Daddy spent a LOT of time wrapping it.

The littles got these 
Rody Horses
which have somehow been renamed:

Wonky Donkeys

Now the putting together begins!!

We headed an hour north to my folks.

And all my boys sat and played on their 
electronics while waiting for the food to cook...

the three littlest birds,
were in the kitchen,
helping taste test the meat...

The post food nap
with Aunt Melanie.

Uncle Jack's 
post-bath double handful.

Then this one
was just too cute 
NOT to share.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Advent Adventures: Our Christmas Card

Thankfully I have one of those 
fancy schmancy cameras now,
so I can spend a little time,
in the comfort of our home...
attempting to take nice pictures of our children.

I still get REALLY
you name it...
I get it when I am attempting to take
time sensitive "formal" pictures!

with the help of the digital age,
I was able to take pictures one night
sort through them,
design cards and have them printed
and in my hand the 

To be mailed off within another day or two!
Whoo hoo!!

Here were the top contenders
then our Christmas card.

"the Littles"

ALL of my babies!!

A scanned in version of our card this year:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Advent Adventures: A Family Christmas Card

Back in my 
(from March!)
I gave you a peek at our
little family photo session.

I had no idea at the time,
how much those few minutes,
taking those pictures would mean to me.

Until this arrived in my mail:

is my family!
All 12 of us.
(crazy part is my crew makes up 50% of it though!)

And as I mentioned before,
my favorite part of this picture
is you have absolutely NO
idea who is married to who
which kids belong to who!
I love it!!!

The sad part is,
there is really no telling
we will do something like this again...
my baby sis is off for an adventure this summer
to Colorado...
only time will tell where she goes from there!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Homeschooling: Christmas Jump Rope Camp

My guys have been exposed to jump rope
a few different times.
PE in public school
PE in our homeschool PE class in Texas
Jump Rope class in our Co-op here last semester...
and they enjoy it!

So when we were given an opportunity to participate
in a Christmas break Jump Rope Camp 
we jumped at it!
Har har!

It happened to be a few days before Christmas,
so we signed our oldest 2 up.

When we got there,
our daughter decided she 
HAD to stay and participate too!
So after a little running around to get and bring her lunch
Daddy and I had a little time with
just the baby of the family!
I am not sure when or if we will ever get that again!
We did a little last minute shopping
and the time passed WAY quicker than we thought it would!!

When we got back to pick up the rest of the crew,
they had a little "show" for us.
To show us what they had learned!

Jackson really didn't want to stay actually,
because he knew it was going to be high energy!
But he thought that it was going to be 4 hours of non-stop
jumping rope!
Sweet boy!
It was NOT.
They had plenty of breaks
plenty of downtime.

And he survived!!!

Rico has learned quite a few tricks
and it going to have to show Papa.
My dad used to teach PE back in his 
"previous life" and was actually pretty good at
jump rope and enjoyed showing off his trick.

Wonder if he can still do them??

Jump Rope Camp was a success!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Advent Adventures: Christmas Cookies

Along with our graham cracker
gingerbread houses,
we also make Christmas cookies every year.

You HAVE to have cookies
to put out for Santa, right??

We do it up.
We do the homemade dough,
rolling them out with a rolling pin,
cutting them out with cookie cutters,
baking them
then decorating with buttercream!

We do it up!
Have for years!
Even before the kids were really
old enough to really understand what we were doing.

And we have always tried to do them with my mom.
Cause Nana loves baking!!

So this year,
we just happened to schedule our cooking baking
when Nana & Papa were coming down
to babysit so daddy and I could go to a 
Christmas Party.

I usually get lots of pictures
of the afters 
but I was partying!

So here are just the during pictures,
before we left.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Advent Adventures: Our Advent Calendar

Advent Calendars...
what a great way to count down 
the days til Christmas.
It is so exciting to watch as 
you slowly
work through the calendar
knowing that Christmas Day
is getting closer and closer!

I love the idea
and we have done one,
of some type,
every year.

We have done the chocolate kind.
We have done the Lego kind.
But when you have 4 kids...
individual calendars
take up a LOT of space
a LOT of money!!!
The one year we had the Lego one,
we had 3 kids participating.
The boys really took turns putting the little 
Lego figure together
and Lex totally got left out.

Not a lot of fun.
I also wanted ways to incorporate 
the reason for the season 
into our Advent Calendar.

So last year,

And I came up with a great plan.

Here is the posting from last year
about our

Advent Calendar

This year,
we had the PERFECT spot for it.


I even added the little "clue cards"
Truth in the Tinsel
to our daily stockings
(along with a piece of chocolate for each member of the family!)

This worked BEAUTIFULLY!

The only addition I hope to eventually be able
to keep up with
is the addition of a festive
activity each day.

Making cookies,
hot cocoa and a Christmas movie,
making gingerbread houses...

things like that.

But I am SO not on top of stuff
to be able to plan what
we will be able to do each night.
I need something WAY more fluid
and would have to just make a list
and put the idea into the stocking the night before
based on our schedule for the next day.

That is the ONLY way I could keep up with it.

So note to self:
in just over 7 months,
start compiling a list of things that we can do
to add to our other Advent Adventures!