Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christmas 2013

Week 2 of our two week long adventure.

So, we spent a week in AZ. Came back Saturday night, late. I did laundry and repacked all day Sunday. Then Monday we left for Utah.

Long story short, because of some scary health scares, we decided to all get together for Christmas this year and all stay under one roof. All James' brothers and their families were there (minus 1 brother and his sister who couldn't make it), his mom and dad, Grandpa and Aunt. We rented a cabin in Eden, UT which was about 4.5 hours from us.

That morning before we left, James was finishing loading the car and Ellie was in the "I might try to walk" stance. I had my phone handy so I quickly turned the video camera on. You can see her little mind turning, trying to figure out which foot to move. She has taken a few steps prior to this (or so it's been reported) but it was fun for me to catch her doing this.

Anyways, since we weren't driving through Ellie's nap time I was little worried about how she'd do in the car. I got out my old portable DVD player/case and we set it up so she could watch Yo Gabba Gabba. Let me tell you, it was AMAZING! She did so good! I'm sure she would have done good without it, but it was so nice to have!

We had made it to the bottom of the Mountain (Ogden) before everyone else was done grocery shopping in the city 40min away. We thought, no problem, we'll stop at this random Library and hang out for a little bit. We waited a LONG time!! Ellie did good though, given the wait. It is definitely hard to communicate and coordinate with such a large family. Thankfully, when we did head up the mountain she fell back asleep and got a 2nd nap in.  

So Eden is up the mountain from Ogden. So far up we hardly had any cell phone reception. But it sure was pretty driving up to the cabin. James said, "If someone asks where we are we can say, 'In a picture.'" Haha. 
  Here is the Cabin. It was called Moose Lodge. Becky and I did a lot of looking, A LOT, and this was the one that met our families needs for size and price. We were slightly skeptical, but it turned out to be just perfect. The owners were great and they had the place not only decorated with the moose theme but they also decorated for Christmas making it feel very homey.

We arrived the 23rd so the next day was Christmas Eve. Most everyone went out to town for some last minute things, shopping, etc.

Here is Ellie in her Christmas Eve outfit.

James and I have talked a lot about what we want Christmas to look like in our family. I read a few blogs of women who make sure their family knows that Christmas is about Christ and not just about presents. We also think this is important. The common rule of thumb they follow for gifts is;
Something you Want
Something you Need
Something to Wear
Something to Read
and a Surprise.
Ellie is still too little to understand everything about Christmas but I wanted to keep the amount of gifts she received, from us, at a reasonable level. She was blessed to get many other toys from family though.

On Christmas Eve, Ellie opened up her Christmas Eve Pajamas. I love her face in the 2nd picture.
3rd picture-dead tired! 

Once all the kiddos were finally asleep, Santa's Helpers went to work setting up the gifts. Becky lives about 40 min from the cabin so many presents were stored there (like those GINORMOUS stuffed animals). So Peter and Thomas went and got all those presents late that night.

I recorded a lot of Christmas morning on the video camera and I was worried I didn't take enough pictures. But once I up loaded them I did take quite a few.
Ellie and I were the first up everyday. Some days though, after about an hour, James would switch with me and I'd get a little more sleep. I told everyone that they better get up early because I'm not waiting around until 10 to open presents. Ha. We made a deal that by 8am waking people up was fair game. Everyone was up by 8 though.
So anyways, I wanted to get Ellie's reaction to the tree and presents and as I was recording James and Ellie come down the stairs, James slipped a little and fell on his butt. I turned off the camera (regret that now) and ran to HER aide. It scared me because I didn't see really what happened just heard the crash. I was holding Ellie (I don't even think she had any idea what had happened) and James goes, "I'm fine, don't worry." Mean of me, I know. BUT they are both fine. He knocked off the vintage snow shoe from the wall, but it was safely rehung later.
Ellie was pretty excited when she saw those stuffed animals. They weren't for her, but seeing her excited was cute anyways. She even tried digging into some of the boy's presents right away haha. 

Since day one, Ellie really took a liking to her cousins. She had ZERO fear. She went right up to them. Played with them. She wanted to be in the action almost all the time.
I love these pictures of Ellie just being with the "big kids."

Paul and Eva didn't come until 2 days after Christmas and Richard wasn't able to make it so the picture below is missing 2 cousins. But here are the kids in their Christmas Pajamas.
This is the first picture I have of Felicity and seeing her cry makes me so sad. She had been fighting a sickness for a few days and was just feeling so miserable. It was obvious she was not acting like herself at all. Thankfully, towards the end of the week she made a great turn around and was able to have some fun with Ellie but it was so sad to watch. I don't like seeing babies sick, but who does?

James' mom bought a Children's Book about Jesus' Birth and James read that to everyone. Great Grandpa also set out a light-up Christus which caught the attention of the kids pretty quickly. We also sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Being apart of these traditions are fun. I love that James and I are able to take parts of our own families traditions growing up and combine them to make family traditions with our own kids.
Next were stockings. In Ellie's stocking was; bubbles, baby doll, koosh ball and finger puppets. In James' stocking was candy and gag gifts. I made him a bearded hat and I also got him a whoopee cushion and bottle glasses with a nose and mustache. I also included Ellie's present to daddy which were hand stamped metal collar stays that read "I love Dadda" "<3 Ellie 2013." In my stocking; lots of candy, eye liner (I was specific) and a set of 2 rings.

Opening presents with so many people was slightly chaotic. I feel like it went too fast. I wanted to see what other people were getting, but I also wanted to focus on Ellie and James too. It was hard. But Ellie also got from us a Kaleidoscope Camera (Surprise), Books (Want/Read), Tickle Monster book (Read). There wasn't really anything Ellie "needed" to fulfill the Christmas gift outline but she loves books so we got her a few more to add to her collection.

Ellie also got some great stuff from her Aunt Becky (on behalf of Grandma and Grandpa). She got the Yo Gabba Gabba TY beanie baby set, which was PRICELESS to see her open. I don't know what it is about those characters but Becky and Peter were right on with getting her those. She also got a Dr. Kit, VTech toy camera, Magnadoodle, and a Bear Laptop.
We also did Secret Santa's this year and Becky and Peter had James and me. Becky knows my love for Ellen and got us Ellen's Headsup Game and gave me License Plate cover. So fun!

Becky took this next picture. Makes me laugh!!

Ellie LOVED playing with her cousins the rest of the day. It was too cute to look over and see her playing with them and them playing with her. Melts my heart and makes me wish we were all closer!

Thanks to Kristen for taking our Christmas 2013 picture.

Felicity got an activity table for Christmas which was such a great gift to have at the cabin. It kept those girls occupied for a long time. Oh, I haven't mentioned. Felicity and Ellie are 3 months apart. Ellie is older. While Felicity was still not feeling good that night, the pictures below are the first time the girls were really interacting (other than playing with that sword-ha). But picture number one was our first attempt I think. I'm sure Ellie hurt her feelings. But we put them back at the table and if you see, Felicity is playing with one of the toys on the table and Ellie reaches over and takes over. So funny how kids think. Out of ALL the different little things on that table she has to play with the one Felicity is touching. Or maybe she's just showing her how to do it? Funny though. I don't think I even noticed until looking through these pictures.
So obviously Becky and I planned to have the girls match for Christmas. Since Felicity was feeling so icky we waited a few days to get cute pictures of the girls together. They were adorable though!!
Here was another matching outfit day. Kohls messed up Becky's order and in the end she got two of the same outfit and kindly gave us the other one. We loved matching the girls. 

Felicity getting payback on Ellie for hogging the table. Oh wait, Ellie has her walker now too. Cousin love.

Ellie putting on a show for Grandma.

Becky and I both look hideous in the picture below. Well, she looks fine, but she doesn't think so and I definitely don't. Eva looked great but I couldn't leave her head in, that would look funny so I cropped us out so you can see the babies. Here are the 3 newest babies in our family. Ellie 12 month, Felicity 9 months, Carlie 3 months. Richard got married and gained a new daughter too. In just one year the girls outnumbered the boys. 7 girls and 3 boys. Before, there were 3 boys and 3 girls. Crazy.

SO much more went on that I don't have pictures to document.
-James and I made a trip to IKEA, which I was so excited about, but they didn't have either of the 2 big things we went for.
-We attempted to see the Salt Lake Temple lights but by the time we got there it was past Ellie's bed time and FREEZING so we left.
-The older kids played in the snow.
-David and Tara took care of overseeing all the meals. They did awesome.
-Great Grandpa burned onto DVDs old Super8 videos of back in the day.
-Grandpa and Aunt Cherie had to leave early because Grandpa got really sick (he is doing much better now).
-of 23 people who stayed at the Cabin, 18 people at one point or another got a 24 hour bug. I escaped it. Probably because I walked around with the Lysol can the entire time. James felt icky one day but didn't get it as bad as others. Ellie didn't get it until the day after we got back. I HATE vomit and cleaning it up is even worse. I swore if our kids were ever throwing up James would have to take over. But Ellie was sick, I cleaned up after her 8 different times and I was fine. It is totally different when it's your own kid. By the 2nd or 3rd person to get sick at the cabin though, I was waking up every morning with horrible anxiety worried about getting sick myself, but thankfully never did. I did get mastitis the next day after Ellie was sick though, which I never had before. But it went away quickly once on antibiotics.

Two long crazy weeks. It was fun seeing my family in AZ and to have everyone in James' family meet up in UT. But it's also nice to be back home doing our own thing, sleeping in our own bed, etc.

I miss everyone though! Love you guys. Do it again in 2040? Kidding.

*The pictures above are a combination of pictures that Becky and I both took

Friday, January 10, 2014


This was the start of our 2 week long adventure.

James, Ellie and I flew to AZ for my sister's graduation. Ellie did marvelous on the plane. It wasn't even 1/2 full (I would think that would be unheard of for a flight into PHX) so we got to take her car seat on the plane. Once I convinced James to stop playing with her, she fell right asleep and slept the entire way.

We first stayed a few days in Mesa. 
Last time I was in AZ was when Ellie was 6 months old. I was a little nervous to see how she would do sleeping this time around because she hasn't slept in a pack n' play since that trip. I thought sleeping in the same room as her might pose as a problem so I set her up in my sister's old room. Ellie had got into the habit of not sleeping through the night so I was expecting her to wake up. The first night was rough. I can't remember the exact details anymore but I do remember the bedroom being cold in the middle of the night so I knew I had to get a heater in there. Also, it was either the same night or another but James wanted to "help" and went to get her but she was used to being fed and put back down so when daddy goes in it's hard for her to fall back asleep. He brought her into our room and blah, bad idea. She takes up too much bed and I'm afraid to move and wake her and she wants to change positions 1000 times. It was not comfortable. Actually, I'm just remembering, she fell OFF the bed too! I remember James saying, "At least the carpet is plush" or something of the sort. After we got a space heater in that room and we agreed that I would be the one to go in there in the middle of the night things were fine.

While in Mesa, my mom, James, Ellie, me and my Grandparents went to see the lights at the Desert Botanical Gardens. This is an annual thing for my family to do.

James, Ellie, me, Pam and my Dad also met up with my other Grandparents in Casa Grande and had lunch. I miss being so close to them. My Grandma is such a hoot.

After lunch we drove back to Mesa. A friend and I took each other's family pictures. We just ran across the street to the park and up the hill to the desert. Wasn't our ideal location but we made it work.
Grace, Jeff and Camden
 Now, it gets confusing, but Ellie and Camden are "kinda step cousins."
Camden was born October 20th and Ellie was born December 6th. 
They are 6.5 weeks apart. 

Here is my dad with Ellie and Pam with Camden.

The next day James and I drove up to Flagstaff to spend extra time with my sister and meet up with Tania and her family. We were all going to meet up at Cassidy's apt first before heading to The North Pole Experience later that night. I had Cassidy make us all Chili for a quick dinner. I figured that would be an easy crock pot meal for her to make for so many of us. Funny story though, at least to me, we were driving to Flag and Cassidy text me, "This chili is out of control." I was DYING laughing. It took me a solid 5 min to tell James what Cassidy had just text me. I could not see I was tearing up so hard. This is my selfie to Cassidy.
I THINK I was laughing so hard because an "easy meal" to me was "out of control" for Cassidy. When I got into her apt, I started laughing all over again. Her crock pot was so tiny! She got it all to fit, but for real, it was out of control!

So Ellie didn't have a late enough nap and was totally needing another nap before we left for The North Pole Experience but with no time I was hoping she'd at least fall asleep for a 5min car drive to the hotel we were supposed to go to. Thankfully she did and continued sleeping as we got her out and slept on the trolley all the way until our destination.

The North Pole Experience was fun. Tania's two oldest, especially Sadie, were the perfect age for this. She loved every second of it. We all bought our tickets prior so when we got to the hotel that we were supposed to go to we checked in for the trolley and we took the Christmas Trolley to the North Pole. The elf, who is like "150 years old", has the kids sing songs to pass the time (10-15min) and then you go through a portal. He tells you what say, the magic phrase, and has you close your eyes (so you aren't blinded by the seizure inducing lights) and poof you're at the North Pole.
It was pretty crowded just on our trolley (our group that goes through the tour together). It felt like there were a high number of adults to kid ratio. I wasn't paying that much attention as we walked through, but basically first you enter Santa's retired toy shop and from there you go into the the new toy shop. Then you sit down with an elf and make a toy for "a little boy or girl who may not otherwise have a Christmas." Then you go into the sorting room and they throw toys down a ramp into the bins (the kids stand around the bins). Santa also makes an appearance here. Then the kids get to have a cookie and snowman soup. After kids started getting up from the table I had James sit Ellie down to get a cookie too. After the elf handed Ellie her cookie I could hear people say "look at that little baby with the cookie." Ha. After cookies they piled us into a classroom. I forgot what they were teaching though, ironically. It was probably something about being a good boy and girl. Then, you see Mrs. Claus and write letters to Santa. Following that, you get to see Santa's sled and then each family gets their individual time with Santa. We were first, score. And it was pretty nice. They don't rush you or anything and you can take as many pictures as you want and they throw them on a usb for you to take home. We all loaded back on the trolley, went through the portal, and we were back in Flagstaff safe and sound.
LOVE this picture. Ellie sure isn't a big fan of Santa this year.

So I ran through that pretty quick. I think from start to finish was around 2 hours long. It is definitely the perfect set-up for a 4 or 5 year old. Sadie kept saying she was going to go back next year. I did think it was a little expensive for us to go and not get the same benefit out of it only having Ellie. But being there with Tania and Cassidy and watching Sadie was definitely fun. 

Side note: in Flagstaff, Ellie did have to share a room with us and she did JUST fine with us only being a few feet away.

The following day we went shopping and had lunch at Olive Garden. Tania lives in a small town now and an Olive Garden is like a huge treat to her. Also, we totally unknowingly matched our babies in the same sweater! Too funny. Jane rocked a better bow though. Ellie 12.5 months, Jane almost 11 months.

I hate being so far from my bestie, but it is always fun to get together and see each other's kids. 

Then, Cassidy graduated! Yay! She graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and she was 1 of 2 Summa Cum Laude's to graduate. Pretty awesome.

Here is Cassidy and Kristina. They have been Best Friends since KINDERGARTEN! Crazy, right?
Her cap says, "My Parents Are Proud of my BS"

Ellie and I spent the majority of the graduation walking the halls. It was like baby central out there. Haha. I kept checking in though so we didn't miss her walking across the stage.

 It started snowing right after she graduated (you can see it coming down a little in the picture). It made us all flustered. It was cold and Ellie was screaming so we rushed through pictures and weren't able to get all the combinations she/we wanted.

Later, we went out to dinner all together. My dad, Pam, my mom, Grandparents, James, Ellie and I. Cassidy wanted money for graduation but I wanted to make it fun so I looked up ideas on line (Google: fun ways to give money) and James executed the idea I liked best. He taped all the ones together and cut a slit in the top of the box. Then on the bow it said "Pull Me" and out comes the money. Top right picture she is say, "You're so dumb." Haha.

 It continued snowing that night and we were moving her out of her apt that next morning (3rd floor). I, thankfully, have a baby so I got to stay indoors cleaning and throwing the random stuff left over into a box.

Oscar Mayer was parked at our Hotel.

Then we all drove back to Mesa and came across some thick fog.

We got back, unpacked the truck then that night my mom made a small Christmas dinner and we exchanged gifts.

The final day we hung out for a little bit and then flew back to ID. This time the plane was full but Ellie still did awesome. While at the airport, Ellie saw some people at our gate with their little dogs. James took her over to them. She loves doggies.

Woah long post!!
Next will be our trip to Utah.