Wednesday, January 11

a SNOW day!

last friday, the 6th, we woke up to a white blanket of snow! around here, just the thought of snow is enough for the whole town to go into panic mode, buy all the necessities at the store, and cancel anything and everything. so, school was cancelled. the kids were outside by 7 am. charlie lasted about 20 minutes before he came in with cold toes and hands and hunkered down to watch some cartoons. owen and i slept (or tried to sleep through the noise) until 8:30.... thats the best part of a snow day if you ask me! after warming up, charlie, owen and i headed out at 8:30 to check out jack and ellie's snowman and do some sledding. we are lucky to have an empty lot right across the street that is situated on a slight hill. perfect for kids their age. the kids stayed out ALL DAY except for lunch, when i forced them to come in for soup and ham and cheese sliders. owen wasn't a big fan of sledding, but he didn't want to miss out on one second of the snowy fun. he walked up and down that hill over and over, trying to keep up with the big kids. they had some buddies over for a couple hours in the afternoon, so while owen napped, thats when i was finally able to catch up on this dang blog! i guess that was one blessing from the snow ;) it was fun for a day and I'm glad the kids got to make the most of it. and I'm super glad that its all melted now :)

i pulled out the nice camera and didn't check the settings. these pics are overexposed, but oh well, i still love them!

a holly jolly christmas

christmas 2016 was wonderful! 
simple and low key. 
we didn't go anywhere and no one came here. it was just our little family and that was good!

we kicked off the christmas season by getting our lights up outside right after thanksgiving, thanks to cameron who helped chris while they were here for thanksgiving break. 

owen and nora, enjoying the lights before bed

we went to the tree farm out in charleston on the 1st to get our tree!
the farm has hot cocoa and animals and candy canes and hay tunnels and all sorts of stuff for the kids to run around and enjoy. unfortunately we got there pretty late in the evening, so we didn't get to spend too much time there this year, but the kids still had fun. on our way out (its about a 30 min drive) we stopped on the side of the road, set up the tripod, took about 40 pics in 2 (pretty cold) minutes, crossed our fingers that one would turn out semi-decent for our christmas card, loaded back up in the van, and kept driving to the farm before the sun went down. 

this picture cracked us up when we noticed chris's itty bitty hand on jack's shoulder...

... then we realized it was ellie's hand :)
at the tree farm, complete with hot cocoa 'staches!

after the farm we stopped at a pizza place in a little town called lavaca... the pizza is mediocre and the service isn't much better, but we did it last year so its now a tradition.

other christmas festivities of the season included a trip to see santa at the mall

gingerbread house making
(aka graham cracker houses)

we waited to do this while owen was napping because, you know. sanity.

truthfully, i wasn't in the best mood while making these houses and the kids knew it. so when charlie needed help, jack stepped right in. he is definitely the definition of what every big brother should be. every mom needs a jack. he is so great.

we spent many, many evenings driving around to see christmas lights, including a house in Van Buren that does a whole big show with their own radio station. it wasn't super great, but hey, its arkansas :) owen loved the lights this year.

we had so much fun opening gifts from family members that thought of us even though we are far. 
we have loved the game Labryinth from bo and larissa and play it almost daily. its great for kids and adults. another one that we've had a great time with was sent by reed and cathy and its called pie face showdown. we've had such a great time with this and ellie even used it to tie in a lesson for family home evening this last monday. here is a clip from our first time playing:

another fun event of the season was the 4th grade multicultural night. it's not christmas related, but it sure took up a lot of our time and is a big school tradition. every year the 4th graders do some family history research and then do presentations on one of the places that their family is from. jack chose to do his project on england because so much of all 4 of his grandparents lines come from england. they have to make a slideshow, a poster, and a doll for their presentations. then they all bring food and dress up as much as possible to represent their county the night of the program. we did the best we could... but dressing to represent england is a little tricky! so we went with a very british tweed vest and called it good. jack also took McVities chocolate caramel biscuits to share.
i loved that owen ran up to give him a high 5 after their special song they sang. he is jacks biggest fan.

another school project around christmas (and no, i am not thrilled that teachers give big projects this time of year!!!) was charlie's santa sleigh they had to make for a science project. they were learning about movement and pushing and pulling. charlie knew his sleigh had to have gold flames on it. thatta boy, charlie!

funny side note: the morning this project was due, ellie accidentally knocked off one of the runners with her backpack as i dropped the kids off at school. you win some, you lose some.

on christmas eve morning we went and had our annual christmas eve breakfast of donuts! and then headed to the church for some dodgeball, kickball, and basketball with friends. this year we also did a "tree decorating" race for the kids. always a great time and we are SO thankful for such amazing friends! this year it was us, the Peczuh's, the Westcott's and the Rackham's (minus Kelsie who was home with a week old baby everlie grace).

 not sure why, but we've always taken a sleepyhead family picture by the tree before getting our donuts. apparently, this year is our chillaxing version.

christmas morning!
because christmas fell on a sunday, we decided that we were going to wait until after church to find our stockings that santa hid and open gifts. the kids were a little apprehensive about this, and i don't blame them. but we decided to make a nice breakfast and try to focus on what christmas is all about before church and save all the craziness for after our one hour meeting. it turned out amazing! the kids did great and only asked once or twice if the could find their stockings before hand. 

santa left a note by the nativity that let the kids know that there was a big surprise out in the driveway, a new basketball hoop. they have definitely used that more than any other gift so far, besides stuffed animals which all four of them always love to sleep and snuggle with.

we had a beautiful breakfast of sticky buns, scrambled eggs, pepper bacon, fruit and oj. right before church, we read some testimonies of chris' parents and siblings about the savior. his sister amy had the idea and asked everyone to send them to her so she and her family could read them. even though chris and i spaced it and didn't get ours sent, we definitely are grateful that amy put it together because we felt the spirit in our living room that christmas morning in a way that doesn't usually happen on christmas morning.

christmas afternoon was a frenzy of toys, wrapping paper, boxes, and lots of smiles and squeals of delight! as always, we feel so blessed. we always have an abundance and always promise that next year we will tone it down. but nothing beats seeing those smiles! owen's favorite gifts are a ride on rocket and a stuffed puppy, charlie's favorites are an imagined dinosaur and a flipazoo, ellie's faves have been a magic set, the basketball hoop, and a calico critter townhouse, and jack has loved his ollie robot and a microscope. 

we have so enjoyed the love sent from all of our dear family and even though we miss them all year long, we know we have scored big time in the family department! we love them all so much!

christmas dinner was also a special occasion! we got out the nice plates and decorated the table. we poured the bubbly and ate daddy's prime rib. ellie even loved the special horseradish sauce that chris made, the funny girl.