Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Coal City!

Our last Christmas celebration of the season was yesterday and today. We headed to Coal City to visit with Great Grandma Fulton, Uncle TOmmy, and Aunt Mary and Uncle George. The kids LOVE visiting Grandma. And while she only has about 3 toys and few books, the kids are in heaven and play together so nicely.
The kids were so excited to have G. Gram and A.Mary and U.George open their homemade gifts.

We love you, Aunt Mary (87) and Uncle George (93)!!!

When we visit Coal City, we play hours and hours and hours of Liverpool Rummy. yesterday, Tommy, Mary, and Bri taught the kids how to play. It was time!

Lots of visiting and sharing stories and lots of tickling and laughing with Uncle TOmmy!

Oh, and rides on Gram's new lift chair!And when we got home....that wiggly tooth came out, making 2 teeth lost in 5 days!!!

What an incredible trip and time together as a family!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


When we woke up this morning and saw a little bit of snow on the ground, I'm not sure who was more excited to get outside, the kids or us! We love playing in the snow-preferrably sledding. Since the hills weren't quite ready for us, we headed to the yard! it was the best packing snow imaginable and perfect for a snowball fight over the fence with our neighbors!!!
Snow angels

First Fulton Snowman of the season

and lots of sled rides through the yards!

When the kids decided they wanted to make another snowman, we headed to Jack and June's yard (ours was now free of snow thanks to the packing ability) We began rolling

And rolling and rolling. And before you know it, we had three HUGE balls that were impossible to lift. Brian and I tried and tried and tried and ended up having to reduce ( or beat the crap out) of two balls so we could lift them! The kids loved their monsterous snowman so much, they wanted to sit on its head to be on top. Then Mara, our gymnast, wanted to stand.

Then Alaric tried

Then me. ( if you could have seen the effort that went into getting me on top of a 6 foot, frozen, snowman with no gloves and no upper body strength)

Brian too!

Snowy Days, we are ready for you! Hills, beware- we've got two new sleds ready to break in and 4 Fultons DYING to try them out!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas with The Bechtels in Monticello

We couldn't hardly wait for everyone to get to our home. We did change but the kids put on clean PJs for another comfy day at home with family!
There were plenty of gifts to go around ( HOLY CRAP!!!)

After the family arrived and nibbled on from scratch cinnamon rolls and monkey bread, we began the feast of opening.....pianos

and mermaids

hats and gloves

star wars dollstents and everything else imaginable!!!!

After a wonderful soup and bread lunch, the kids rested and the parents played games-or game. Game after game of Mexican train Dominoes! SO FUN! The kids can play too!!!

It was a wonderful day. The kids played in jammies together all day, without one bicker or fight. The parents got to talk, uninterrupted AND play games. We killed 5 bottles of wine and a 6 pack of beer ( would have had more but we ran out) We had a make your own pizza bar for dinner and everyone left with rubbermaids full of loot, full bellies and happy hearts!

What a wonderful day with the BEchtels! I love you all!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas at OUR HOME!

For those who know me, you know Christmas is my favorite day of the year. I don't care at all about the gifts ( however it brings both Brian and I great joy to see the kids' eyes light up and to create a very magical day for them). I love it because its US. Its PJs all day. Its snuggling and playing and leaving messes as they are. Its pillow fights, binge eating, and watching tons of movies. Its napping throughout the day and having no guilt about it. And lots of kisses and zerberts and laughing. I love it!

So, we were all so excited to get out of bed and race to the living room to see what Santa brought for everyone!

The kids got everything they asked for ( Santa only brings stocking items to our house so the kids know they must only ask for small items that will fit in their stockings).

5 years ago, Brian and I began a Christmas tradition for our family that has been life changing. We don't like "stuff". We don't need more. We prefer giving and spending time together and creating life-long memories. So, we began 3 gifts. Only 3 gifts. Each of us only receives three gifts under the tree ( not including any handmade treasures from school or church or crafting). One gift is just for the person ( something they would love!). Another one is something for us to do IN the house or at our home that we can share together as a family but totally geared towards the person who is receiving the gift. The third is something for us to do AWAY from our house as a family, again geared towards that person.

So, here ya go! Here's a rundown on what we got.


Gift for her: All things My Little Pony!

Gift for Home: Amara's Art Cart! A cart filled with all new art supplies, paints, paper, coloring books, clipboards, glue, and other craft supplies for us to all use at home!

Gift for AWAY from Home: PINKALICIOUS LIVE!!!! We are going to see Pinkalicious The Musical at the Parkland College Theatre!


Gift for him:All Things StarWars!!!

Gift for AT Home: Two Kung FU Panda movies, his own popcorn and his own shaker of nacho cheese sprinkles!

Gift for AWAY from home: LEGOLAND!!!! A trip to Chicago's Legoland!!!!!!!


Gift for me: Apron with a picture of me drinking the biggest Octoberfest Beer I could find and the words "Id rather be drinking" LOVE IT!!!

Gift for AT Home: A picture puzzle of my one of my favorite pics of the kids!

Gift for AWAY from home: Audiobook of the newest Nicholas Sparks Book!! I run and listen to audiobooks. helps me disconnect ( don't make fun of me-its works)


Gift for him: Book by his favorite blogger, Fatty. He had been asking for it for awhile. Because of technical difficulties when trying to order it on line, I actually got to communicate and text back and forth with Fatty and that was so fun!!!

Gift for AT Home: A Book of short stories of Greek Mythology so Brian can read it outloud to the family!

Gift AWAY from home: Scavenger hunt. Coming in the next few weeks. Around town, you name it. Just wait for details on this one!!!!

Alaric made us a couple beautiful ornaments ( you know how I love my ChristmasTree ) and a coupon book with services he will provide!

And Amara made two beautiful ornaments for us too!!!We sat back and enjoyed the destruction only 12 gifts can createand played with our kids and their new toys!!!Oh, and Amara showed off her new princess panties she very specifically asked Santa for with the promise she would do better.

After an amazing home-made breakfast, we did what we always do...blew up the Aerobed in the family room right in front of the TV and ran around the house getting every pillow we could find and settled in for hours and hours of laziness!! It was perfect!!!

And while work is usually strictly prohibitted on Christmas, we did have to do some to prepare for hosting Bechtel Family Christmas tomorrow. So, we stayed in the jammies and Mar and I got to work making dough for the greatestcinnimonrollsever.
It was an amazing day!Merry Christmas everyone. So sad that its over!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

We woke up this morning, Christmas Eve Morning, hung over at my parents house from the crawl last night with two anxious kids and a big day ahead of us.

The kids were so eager to get home and get to their advent calendars for the last day of the countdown. They knew what was to come...their scavenger hunt. ON THE LOOK OUT FOR BABY JESUS!!!

The first one says to go to the place where we put Christmas pictures from friends....THE DOOR!!!
What does Daddy use to workout his big muscles? THE WEIGHTS!!!!

Time to watch a DVD...The DVD PLAYER!!!!

Beer! To the BEER FRIDGE!!!

OUR NATIVITIES!!!!!!( along with a few toppled beer cans and weird green substance) Yup, I thought it would be just fine to put the Holy Family on ice with the beer for the hunt.

The kids love getting their Nativities-which they keep under their Christmas trees by their bedsides until Epiphany!Christmas Eve morning, the kids ( and mommy and daddy) get their new PJs that they will wear Christmas Eve night and ALL day on Christmas. The kiddos also get an ornament that commemorates the past year. Alaric got a Yoda and Amara got a pink princess! They have their name and year on them too!

Oh, then Alaric's tooth fell out while brushing! Yeah!!!! Big Night- Santa AND the Tooth Fairy arriving on the same night!

After laying around most of the day, we all bathed and got ready for Christmas Eve in Champaign at Grammy & Papa's!

The Fultons

with Grammy & Papa

then with Jack and Veronica

The Bechtels

All the kids love being together, especially at Grammy and Papa's where there are always interesting things to explore- like a light up wall decoration.

Sweet Bechtel Grandkids!

Not sure Grammy & Papa could be happier!

All of us!

This year we simplified Christmas Eve greatly and had dinner together and only opened stockings at Grammy & papa's. The rest would be opened on the 26th. It was a nice treat for the night and the children ( and adults) loved opening the stockings to discover all the small treasures!!

The, as Bechtel Family Tradition has dictated for the past 30 years or so, Grammy and Papa read The Night Before Christmas to all four grandkids. With more than 30 years of practice, we've recited it many different ways...taking turns reading, rapping it, acting it out, you name it. This year's ultimate goal was to simply keep Jack in place long enough to get a good picture of the event ( also required each year). Dan and I decided to be the actors this year....

and while Grammy recited and Papa held down two of the kids, Dan and I put on our show-acting out every part of the story ( and getting even more dramatic for the brief moments of page turning or silence to keep the kids engaged). The kids LOVED watching us as did Grammy & Papa. One of my favorite years yet...simply to be able to see the faces of FOUR beautiful children I love so much enjoy my favorite story of Christmas!

After some hot cocoa and cookies, we headed to church together and then home to get tucked in so Santa could get to work!