What I Made Monday: Hallie's Room

Hallie's room is still a bit of a work in progress. We've got the essentials down, but I'm still adding finishing touches and decorations to the walls and such. I figure she's not really going to know the difference anyway, so it doesn't hurt to take a little bit of time.
I wanted to get the letters for Hallie's name for her wall but everything I found didn't seem right. So, I decided to go with a swirly capital H instead. The ladies at The Wood Connection were kind enough to search their backstock for damask-printed paper that I remember them having last MARCH that matches Hallie's bedding. It was a pretty quick project--a few coats of pink paint, Mod Podge the paper on, finishing spray and embellishing.
After I got it all finished, I realized I had the letter backwards (the swirls were supposed to go the opposite directions). Oh well. It still looks cute, right?

I inherited a wooden shelf from my parents' house when we cleaned it up in the spring. I found out it was actually made by my grandfather, so it's a bit of an heirloom. I painted it black to match the bedding.

It was the perfect place to put her cute ABC name block (courtesy of one of my insanely talented friends). The tall jar in the middle of the shelf came from someone at Cole's work. When he got it it was full of Swedish fish, but after they were all gone it made the perfect container for all of Hallie's elastic headbands. The hooks were a perfect place to hang one of the tutus I made and a pair of ballet slippers Hallie inherited from one of her cousins.

I bought this bow hanger from a boutique, but I quickly realized it didn't have enough space for all of the bows we got for Hallie (my aunt was EXTREMELY generous). I glued a few more pieces of ribbon on to increase storage space, but, as you can see, it still wasn't enough.
I'm planning on getting a few newborn pictures framed for the walls and buy the wall hanging that matches her bedding. We still have to sand down and re-paint the old sewing table that we had in Matthew's nursery (it's currently green) and do a few other things, but as soon as we get it all done I'll take pictures of the finished product.


Young Love and Playing Dress Up

For a few months now Kyle has been talking about his new "girlfriend" Avry. Her mom approached me during pickup one afternoon and told me Avry wanted to have a playdate with Kyle. This was a bit of a relief, because I don't want him to be that weird kid at school that has unrequited crushes on all the girls. It was nice to know that the other kids like him too. :)
I picked the kids up after Kindergarten last Wednesday and brought them back to the house. I'm always super concerned about making sure they have fun activities to do, which is kind of funny because this time, all they wanted to do was watch Daniel Tiger in the playroom.
And snuggle, obviously...
I had to be sneaky when taking this picture--
Kyle would have been SO embarrassed if he knew.
I did make sugar cookies so they could bust out the huge box of cookie cutters the boys got for Christmas from their aunt and uncle (thanks, Chris and Brittany!). They had a blast choosing different cookie cutters and snitching dough when they thought I wasn't paying attention. After the cookies were baked and frosted I let them have free reign over the sprinkles, which in hindsight probably wasn't the best choice--I had to do some serious sweeping of the kitchen floor afterward. It was worth it though, because they had a great time.
As much as I hate to admit it, Hallie is growing up. She's 3 months old today (!!!!!) and quickly growing out of her clothes. Last week I brought out the 3-6 month outfits to wash and fold. This prompted a lot of squealing when I remembered all of the adorable outfits we got at my baby shower. So of COURSE we had to play a little bit of dress up.
She wasn't as excited as I was to play dress up, hence the pacifier in the pictures. She was a pretty good sport, though. I'm so excited for her to wear all of these cute things! There are a lot of cute dresses and short-sleeved outfits, so I hope it gets warm soon...or I'll just have to invest in more tights/baby legs and sweaters.
I spend a lot of time nursing Hallie, which means I spend a lot of time broswing the internets on my phone. I'm sure I'm late to the Jim Gaffigan bandwagon, but this dude is hilarious. As a McDonald's French fry lover, this video spoke directly to my...stomach.


Aaaaand...now I need some fries.


What I Made Monday: The Month of Love

I've been on a crafting binge lately, and since I got my fill of January decorations I moved on to February. I'm starting to think I should just have Cole always budget a percentage of his income for The Wood Connection because I'm there so often...

The center of the "O"s are grey and sparkly
I sort of fell in love with the little wood signs I made in January, and The Wood Connection had paper with the cutest Valentine's Day patterns. 

I couldn't choose only three of them to use, so I made the blocks double-sided. :)

I even bought a door hanger from my front door...and then I realized I already had one from last year. Oops! Guess I should take inventory of what crafts I have before I buy more. So, I'll probably end up making it as a gift for my sister's newly purchased front door (attached to the rest of her newly purchased home where she lives with her newly acquired husband).


Sunday Snuggles and Not a Candy Eater

With the new year came the switch back to 9:00 AM church on Sundays. I'm a huge fan of this time because my kids are nappers and 9:00 church makes afternoon naps possible...which means I get a nap myself. :)
But, some days, my snuggle buddy is too beautiful and it's too easy to stare at her instead of sleep myself.

Just try to stop staring at her face. I dare you.
 I did eventually move her to her crib, but she quickly inherited another snuggle buddy.

Matthew loves Hallie...sometimes a little too much. I have to watch her carefully when I lay her on the floor for tummy time, because his version of "snuggling" quite often means sitting or laying on top of her. He does like to share his blanket with her...but that means putting it over her face which freaks her out a bit. He loves to talk to her...but he usually gets so excited that it ends up being more like yelling. It makes me happy to know that he loves his sister; I guess we just have to have a few more lessons in being soft.
We have a cupboard above the oven that has turned into the hiding spot for any food/treats we don't want the kids to get into without asking. It's such a good hiding spot that at times even Cole and I forget what we have stashed up there. So, the other day I climbed up on a stool to see what was still kicking around up there and figure out what was worth keeping and what needed to be tossed.
I knew we still had a bag of Halloween candy, but I was pretty surprised when I pulled it out and discovered this:
You'll notice there is a significant amount of chocolate left. Any parent knows that there is a Halloween candy hierarchy, and the top spot is always chocolate candy bars--they always get eaten first and in a hurry. Usually by early January you have Smarties, Dum-Dum suckers, the nasty hard candy that you always get from one of the old ladies on the block, and, if you're lucky, a few lurking Tootsie Rolls that can satisfy your chocolate craving if you're desperate enough.
Apparently I haven't had a lot of chocolate cravings lately.
To be honest, I'm more of a salt-craving girl. I can be satisfied after only 1 or 2 pieces of chocolate, but I can eat my weight in French fries or chips and not even flinch...well, until I realize I just ate my weight in junk food.
One of my friends on IG made me realize why I still had so much chocolate. You see, as long as I have it in my house, I don't want it. For example: I have several half-gallons of ice cream kicking around in my freezer, but the second that ice cream is gone I get an insatiable desire for it. Ice cream becomes the only thing I think about. It must be the same thing with chocolate.
I'm not usually a New Years resolutions maker. In fact, I'm pretty unmotivated, period. I was never very athletic or even physically active when I was younger; I took for granted that I was thin and had a kickin' metabolism. Well, 4 kids and 10 years later I'm neither thin nor do I have the metabolism of my youth, and I don't have any fitness habits in place to help me out. I decided I needed to make changes in my lifestyle, because I am entirely too sedentary. I didn't want to restrict my caloric intake too much because I'm breastfeeding (I did Weight Watchers while nursing Matthew, and even though I followed their directions for nursing moms I'm pretty sure I wasn't consuming enough calories to make enough milk for him to thrive...so I'm hyper-sensitive about that this time around). So, that left exercising. I have never been a huge fan of working out; I never seemed to get the endorphin rush that so many people talk about. I just get sweaty and out of breath and red-faced and uncomfortable. Plus, I'm never really sure exactly what to do, and I don't want to pay buckets of money for DVDs/gym memberships/programs that I'll inevitably give up on after only a few weeks.
That all changed with one "share" on FB. One of my friends shared the page called "Bikini Body Mommy." When I looked at the page, I instantly liked what I saw. It's a program created by a mom of three who used a specific set of workouts to lose 100 pounds after the birth of her third child. She was starting up a 90-day challenge of the same workouts at the beginning of January to lose some pregnancy weight (after having a miscarriage). She posts workout videos on YouTube every day for 90 days and the best part is, she is transforming her body right along with her viewers. There was something so raw and honest about her that really spoke to me. I've always felt annoyed when watching trainers and already "fit" people in exercise videos, because they don't look anything like me. They don't look like they're going to pass out if they have to do one more crunch or lunge or squat, and it's so discouraging. This woman is just the opposite. She lets her viewers see when she's struggling and she admits when she's sore and tired. Because she's so relatable I've actually been inspired to exercise every day. It's becoming part of my daily routine. I was SO annoyed when I had to take a week off to let my toe heal, and I'm getting to the point where I crave the sweaty, tired, sore feeling. I can't say that I've ever felt that before. I'm not really looking to lose weight at this point; I just want to establish a habit and make my body stronger so it'll be easier to lose weight when that becomes my focus. I'm three weeks into the 90-day challenge (one week behind because of my broken toe) and I'm loving every bit of it.
The kids are pretty fascinated by the whole exercise thing. One of the days I was running the basement stairs as part of a HIIT cardio workout while they were eating their lunch, and they would laugh and yell in excitement every time they saw me at the top of the stairs. I started making faces at them to make them laugh harder and I forgot how tired I was and how sore my legs were. They got down from the counter and started running the stairs with me. When I switched to jumping jacks they followed me and did some jumping jacks of their own. It was striking to me how much my behavior shapes theirs. I'm happy that I'm starting to be a good example to them.


Parking Lot and Pink Bumbo

My friend Danielle has started blogging every day--not because super awesome spectacular things happen to her family all the time, but because it's turned into a way for her to document the day-to-day things that happen with her three boys. I think it's an awesome idea, because even though lots of things happen every day that don't seem "blog-worthy" there are things my kids do that I want to remember, and what better way to do that then document them on the blog? I don't think I'm QUITE up to the task of blogging every day, but I can probably handle Monday/Wednesday/Friday (and I've already gotten into a good habit of that). So that's my blogging goal for the year.

Part of the blessing of being a mom to boys is finding vehicles parked everywhere around the house.

Even though they have an entire room for their toys, the boys always end up in the living room. I figure I can have a nice, formal living room when my kids move out...until they start having grandkids. :)
Kyle was out of school for two days last week in addition to being home for Martin Luther King Day. He woke up on Wednesday morning with a fever and complaining that his throat hurt. I took a quick look at his throat and when I noticed it was swollen I called the pediatrician. I admit I was a bit of a spectacle hauling all four children first to the pediatrician's office (where we found out he had tonsillar pharyngitis--his tonsils were so swollen they were literally touching!) then to Smith's pharmacy to pick up his antibiotic (where I realized I forgot to remind the doctor that Kyle has had a skin reaction in the past to penicillin...the pharmacy had to call the office to get a script for a non-penicillin antibiotic and I felt like a total dum-dum), all the while hobbling with my broken toe...at least I was able to put shoes on, I guess. Kyle asked me several times, "I'm tired of being sick. When am I going to get better?" It's so heartbreaking to see my kids sick, because they're usually so easy-going and happy and I hate to see them so miserable. Fortunately, the antibiotic started working quickly and Kyle said his throat didn't hurt the next morning.
A week or so ago I busted out our pink Bumbo for Hallie. She's about at the point where she can sit in it for a few minutes before she flops over so I've been putting her in it a couple of times a day to help her with her neck strength. Matthew enjoys pushing it around and I'll find him sitting in it from time to time. I guess his brothers haven't indoctrinated him with the "pink is for girls" propaganda yet. 

Also, notice the hairbrush sitting next to him? He also likes to steal my hairbrushes and brush anything and everything: his hair, the walls, the beds...fortunately, I haven't seen him try to brush the toilet or the garbage can, but I wouldn't be surprised if he tries in the near future.

We're in the midst of planning for our 5th annual Super Bowl party! Every year we invite my siblings and their spouses/families over for the Super Bowl. Not everyone is as gung-ho about the game as Cole and I are, but it's fun to get together and watch the commercials. If anyone has any killer appetizer recipes pass them along! I have a bunch that are old favorites, but I'm always up for trying something new.


What I Made Monday: January

My house always looks so dreary after the Christmas decorations come down, and I've made no secret of the fact that January is my least favorite month of the year. I made these snowflakes last year to try and spruce things up, but I needed something more. Nothing a trip to The Wood Connection can't fix!
simple snowman

Cole had to be a smart aleck and ask, "What's 'wonter'?"

These last little "signs" are actually made up of unfinished 4x6 and 5x7 wood blocks. unfinished candlesticks and nobs, and scrapbook paper. I followed an example they had at The Wood Connection and I really like how they turned out.

Stacking snowflakes
This snowflake was really meant to be a wall hanging (it's smaller than most door hangers), but I loved the simplicity and didn't really like any of the other winter door hangers. I painted one layer of dark brown paint, then painted the light blue on top and sanded the edges and roughed up the front so the brown showed through. Add the twine and the rusty snowflakes and I had myself a nice front door hanger.
I may hate January, but I don't hate my January decorations!


Lucas Can't Catch a Break...

Remember that one time Lucas stepped on a toothpick?

Yeah, that kid has bad luck.

The other night I was putting the boys to bed. Lucas was sitting near their bookcase when the cat came into the room.

*side note* I don't know if this is characteristic of all cats, but Felix has this mad desire to climb to the highest point of any room. Then, he whines if he can't find his own way down.

I didn't really pay Felix any notice because he likes to climb on the boys' beds and snuggle at night, so I figured that was his master plan. I was tucking Matthew in when I heard a crash and saw Felix fall and hit Lucas out of the corner of my eye.

Now, Lucas isn't really a huge fan of animals. He tolerates the cat because Felix lives with us, but he doesn't go out of his way to pet him or play with him. So when Lucas started to cry I figured it was just because the cat fell on him and he was startled. Then, he turned around and I recognized his "I'm hurt really bad" cry. He had a huge scratch from just under his eye down to his chin and one on his bottom lip, and both were oozing copious amounts of blood. I snatched him up and took him to the bathroom and yelled for Cole to come get him cleaned up so I could calm the other boys down. After Cole patched him up and we gave him a few snuggles Lucas was right as rain (I tell ya, this kid's a fighter...).

The next morning, it didn't even seem to bother him.

The best I can figure is Felix was trying to jump on to the boys' dresser (on his way to the top shelf in their closet, no doubt) and slipped on something that was sitting on top of it. When he fell his claws came out because he was trying to catch himself and he scratched Lucas on the way down. We're really fortunate he didn't get Lucas' eye--the scratch starts just below it. And, luckily, the scratch isn't too deep. Cole cleaned it out really well and put Neosporin on it, and we're going to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't get infected.

Remind me to start wrapping Lucas in bubble wrap, because he seems to be a magnet for injuries right now...


Broken Toe, Broken Dreams

Okay, the title may be a little on the melodramatic side, but sometimes it feels that way.

Let me back up...

So, on Monday I'm 99% sure I broke my left pinky toe.

I was straightening up the basement that morning and, as it always seems to do, my pinky toe got caught on the edge of the couch. I heard a crack and felt pain. However, I'm proud to report that no curse word escaped my lips...probably because it hurt too much for me to think about swearing (incidentally, I've never sworn when I'm in labor either...which leads me to believe that swearing is a conscious choice for me and not an instinct, so I obviously need to make better choices sometimes...:s). I held out the tiniest bit of hope that I would bounce back; after all, I'm no stranger to stubbing my pinky toes (perhaps it's the way my feet are shaped? I have feet like my mom's, and she is also notorious for stubbing/breaking pinky toes) and so far, I've escaped without a break. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case this time.

You see, after I got over the shock of the pain, I realized that my toe was numb. I wasn't getting any sensory information other than pain from it. It was a super weird feeling. Plus, I couldn't move it...like, at all. So, I called my mom--not only because she's my mom and she's awesome, but also because she has some particular experience with broken toes. She asked me, "Is is kinked off at a weird angle?" The answer, thank goodness, was no. Her response? "Then it probably doesn't need to be set. The only thing a doctor will do is tape it to the other toes." I decided to save the copay and tape them myself.

I also decided to paint my toenails, because if my toe was going to be ugly and taped up, at least my toenails were going to look good!
I quickly realized how much I've taken my toes for granted when it comes to walking like a normal person. I'm still hobbling around a bit, and I have to take the stairs using both feet like I'm a super old woman or a barely walking toddler. Cole started calling me "Hopalong." Oh, and wearing shoes of pretty much any kind is unbearable. If it were summer I could live in flip-flops, but...it's January in Utah. 

My whole FOOT is swollen! Plus, note the bruising on the
 inside of the toe. It looks even more gnarly now.
Perhaps the saddest part of the whole thing (hence the "broken dreams") is I haven't been able to exercise at all this week. I know, right? Weird that I'm actually missing exercise. Pretty much any movement causes me to tweak my toe and yell in pain, so I figure I should probably let it heal. It's just making me absolutely crazy.

So folks, the take-away from all of this is: don't take your toes for granted. Oh, and always wear shoes when you're cleaning.


What I Made Monday: Christmas Gifts

I stress way too much about giving gifts. I have a hard time thinking of things to give because I want it to be PERFECT, so I fuss and worry and, quite often, end up doing something painfully generic like a gift card because I don't want to disappoint them and hey, who's ever disappointed by free money?

This year I needed to come up with gifts for all of my siblings, my parents, and my sister-in-law A. That's 7 gifts that I wanted to be personal and meaningful. Plus, I didn't really have a TON of money to spend so they also needed to be cost-effective...so my brain was seconds away from exploding.

Thank goodness for Pinterest (I never thought I'd actually say that), because I found an idea that was personal, meaningful, AND would work for all 7 gifts! Plus, it was relatively simple to adapt for my own purposes.

personalized slat sign with initials and wedding date

I started with slat signs from The Wood Connection. I borrowed my sister-in-law's Cricut to cut out the vinyl, which I used as stencils.

The process was time-consuming and a bit difficult to visualize (because I layered the letters on top of the "&" symbol) but once I figured it out I just did them all "assembly line" style.

First, you paint the sign the color you want the top most figures--in my case, the initials. Then, you apply the vinyl. Paint the wood (and the already applied vinyl) the color you want the next layer of figures--the & symbol. Apply that vinyl, then paint the entire sign the color you want the "background" to be. Remember, of course, to let each layer of paint dry completely before beginning the next step. When everything is dry, carefully peel off the vinyl and...ta da! I sanded the edges and between the slats to give each sign a more rustic feel and added the twine for decoration.

I honestly feel like it's my greatest crafting achievement to date, and I'm incredibly proud of how they turned out. I'm especially glad that it was for someone else. Crafting is so satisfying for me, but it's especially gratifying when I can give the item to someone else.


Hallie's Blessing

We blessed Hallie on Sunday, December 29. We departed from the tradition of doing it on Fast Sunday because my parents were leaving that afternoon to fly back to Oregon and it was really important to me to have them there.

My mom made Hallie's beautiful blessing dress. It was absolutely perfect, and I'm so glad I have such an incredibly talented mother. It will truly be something I'll treasure forever. Hallie looked like a little angel, and she behaved like one too.

her dress in all its glory

I love that we have priesthood holders bless our infants in our church. It's such a powerful sight to see big, strong men take a tiny infant in their arms and perform the first of many priesthood ordinances that child will experience in his/her life. I'm so grateful Cole is a faithful priesthood holder and has been able to bless our children. He gave her a simple, lovely blessing and the spirit was very strong.
I'm so grateful for this tiny little angel girl. She's still so tiny but I can feel how huge her spirit is, and we're so blessed to have her in our home.


The Grossest Thing I've Experienced in Parenting (To Date)

So, I fancy myself to be pretty stoic when it comes to gross stuff. Blood? Doesn't faze me. Vomit? Don't make me laugh! We've seen a lot parenting three boys (although, no broken bones so far *knock on wood*), so I didn't think there would be anything that would completely unhinge me.

Until now.

A couple of weeks after Hallie was born I packed all the kids in the car to take Kyle to school. When we got back home I took Matthew and Hallie inside then headed back outside to help Lucas jump out of the van. When he hit the ground he instantly started crying and I couldn't figure out why. I thought maybe he had landed on part of his feet too hard and was feeling a little jarred, so I helped him hobble inside. I thought his reaction was a little extreme for what I perceived to be a minor injury; plus, he has a horrible habit of saying "I don't know" when you ask him what's wrong. So, I found myself getting a little frustrated with him. I pulled him on to my lap to take a look at the foot that was bothering him. I noticed there was something sticking out of the bottom of his sock so I figured he just had something stuck in the bottom of his foot. But, when I tried to remove it, it didn't budge. I took his sock off to get a closer look and got the shock of my life:

It was a toothpick.


(I'm shuddering just thinking about it, and it was nearly two months ago!)

I pretty much lost it in the most composed way possible. Lucas was still hysterical, so I couldn't totally freak out because I didn't want to scare him even more, but I was a total basket case. It was like I didn't know what to do. I knew we needed to go to the Instacare, but my two-week-old baby wasn't dressed and needed to eat. The boys were dressed, but they needed shoes and coats. Heck, I needed shoes and a coat! How was I going to handle a brand new baby, a hysterical preschooler, and a perpetually naughty toddler all by myself? I tried to call my sister-in-law to watch Matthew, but she didn't answer her phone (not surprising, since she had a brand new baby and toddler of her own) so after I stopped running around like a headless chicken (SERIOUSLY, that's what I looked like) I packed the kids back in the car and drove to the Instacare. I called Cole on the way and said something like, "Hi Honey, no big deal, but Lucas has a toothpick through his foot so we're on our way to the Instacare." He understandably freaked and borrowed his mom's car to meet us there.

I arrived about 5 minutes before Cole did, and even though he told me to wait until he got there to go inside I got tired of the people in the parking lot looking at me like I was a horrible parent (ya know, since I had a screaming child and I didn't appear to be doing anything to soothe him). But, how was I going to get three kids, all of whom needed assistance, inside by myself? I ran Lucas inside and set him on a chair in the waiting area, then booked it outside for the other two. When I got back inside one of the receptionists was talking to Lucas and trying to calm him down. She asked me why we were there, I held out his foot, and she went "OH." We got checked in pretty fast after that.

This still makes me want to vomit.
Cole arrived shortly after that, and it's a good thing. The combination of his calming presence and a popsicle from the nurses was the ticket to calming Lucas down. When they called his name, Cole went back with him and I sat in the waiting room with the two little ones. Matthew, of course, was his typical naughty self, but Hallie was a little angel. I was finally able to feed her, as much for my relief as for hers.

Cole said Lucas didn't even flinch when they pulled the toothpick out, but he lost it again when they stuck his foot in water to clean it out. They wrapped it up with gauze and red tape, gave him some pain reliever, and sent us on our way. Lucas babied his foot  for the first 15 minutes and then walked around on it like nothing happened. We took the bandage off the next day and could barely see where it happened.

Now, if you're like us, you're wondering, "Where in the holy crap did the toothpick come from?" The best we can figure is it was on the floor of the van, it got stuck in his sock and got jammed in his foot *shudder* when he jumped out of the van. Why were there toothpicks on the floor of the van? Well, Cole took toothpicks to work around Halloween to decorate a pumpkin for a contest they were having at work. The boys found the container and spread them out all over the van and apparently I'm horrible at cleaning up my car.

Fortunately, kids are resilient. Lucas doesn't even remember what happened. Unfortunately, I can't seem to scrape the horrible image out of my brain.



Obviously I am supremely behind, so I'm packing our holidays into one fun-filled, mega-summarized post.


Since Halloween was approximately a week before I had a baby, I was less than inspired when it came to costumes. Luckily for us, we have a box full of costumes from years past and we were able to find something that worked for everyone. Coincidentally, they just happened to be the same costumes the boys wore last year.

If you'll recall, Matthew was 7 months old on Halloween last year, so we were pretty impressed that the Rex costume fit him again this year. Thanks to Grandma for making it on the big side!
One of the most exciting things about Halloween this year was Kyle's first Halloween parade at school. I hauled my pregnant self and the two littles down to the school and found us a spot at what was pretty much the back of the crowd of parents. Add that to the fact that the kids were hauling buns around the gym and you can understand why the only pictures I got of Kyle were blurry cell phone pictures.
He looks disillusioned with the whole thing, but I promise he was excited.
 We headed to Sandy again to trick-or-treat with Cole's brother and his family. The boys tuckered out after only a few streets, but they still managed to make a pretty big haul. Incidentally, I still have close to half of their Halloween candy in the cupboard above our oven--we're not huge candy eaters at our house, apparently.


Thanksgiving was really quiet this year. It was our year to be with Cole's family, but Cole's brothers made alternate plans this year so it ended up being us and Cole's parents. We had a really nice meal with LOTS of food! I made 4 pies (yes, even though there were only 4 adults--we had to have variety!) and some pretty killer rolls (this is now my go-to roll recipe, in case you're wondering).


Christmas started on Saturday, Dec. 21. We had Cole's family's Christmas party. As per tradition, we decorated gingerbread houses.

We also had our family gift exchange. The kids were all super excited to open their present from one of their cousins.

Each of us got a really nice gift, but I think Cole got the best one of all. His brother, who is living in PA going to medical school, sent a poster for Cole's office. At first, we were a little baffled--it seemed like a really random gift. Then, when Cole texted him to say thank you, we found out it was an image of Pelotas, Brazil, the area where Cole spent a significant part of his mission.
The poster hanging in Cole's office
We had Christmas Eve dinner at our house with my family. Thanks to the perks of working at a hotel, Cole was able to set us up with banquet tables, chairs, linens, and flatware. Add in Stephanie's and my Christmas china from our mom and we had a beautifully set table.
Our Christmas table, featuring the newlyweds
After dinner we exchanged gifts. I made what is quite possibly my greatest crafting achievement ever (details in a later post) for my each of my siblings and my parents. We talked and laughed and had a fantastic time.
After everyone left we set cookies out for Santa (Holiday Oreos, because Mama wasn't on top of things and didn't get cookies made) and put the boys to bed. Kyle asked us if 4:30 was too early to get up and open presents, and Cole emphatically told him it was. The funny thing is, Kyle doesn't have a watch or alarm so he would have had no way of knowing when 4:30 was.
The kids woke up around 7:30 and we headed downstairs to open presents. After dumping out the contents of their stockings and unwrapping all of their gifts under the tree, Cole sent them on a hunt for their "big" gift from Santa: a bunch of superhero costumes.
(Lately, they've been really into superheroes and they run around the house pretending to be Iron Man or Spiderman, so Santa decided they needed some costumes to facilitate their huge imaginations.)
They spent all day getting in and out of the various get-ups, and I realized maybe Santa wasn't so inspired because that is what all of my days will consist of from here on out--helping them in and out of costumes.

I made a yummy breakfast casserole and cake batter cinnamon rolls for breakfast, which we devoured. We headed south to Payson to my grandma's house for Christmas afternoon, where we ate MORE food and opened more presents. That evening, Cole took Kyle and Lucas to see Frozen while I went with my parents and the two littles to see Stephanie and Matt's new home and watch them open their wedding gifts.

Oh, and funny (and TMI) story about Hallie on Christmas Day. She had always been on somewhat of a "#2 schedule", if you catch my drift. She would poop on two consecutive days, then go 6-7 days without having a messy diaper. So, she had done her business on Dec. 23 & 24 so I figured we were good for the week and didn't pack any extra clothes for our trip to Grandma's. Well, the little stinker decided to play a mean trick and had a major blow-out just as we were getting ready to leave. And, since it was Christmas Day and there were few businesses open we couldn't just run out and get her a new outfit. We ended up getting her a 6 mo. size t-shirt from Walgreens and wrapping her up in her blanket. At least it was a Christmas shirt so she still looked festive.

The holidays this year were a big, exhausting, exciting blur. Maybe it had something to do with having a new baby in the midst of the season. However, we had a wonderful couple of months full of family, friends, and love, and we're extremely grateful for all of the many ways we are blessed.
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