Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas with The Bechtels

For the past two years, The Bechtels have gathered at our home in Monticello to celebrate Christmas on the 26th.  These four LOVE this day as they get to be together all day and open gifts!
The girls got special blankets for their dolls and scarves for themselves AND their babies!
Lots of things with pictures since we got family pics this fall!
And Papa and the girls gave Grammy a new Fancy Nancy Book- so exciting!
While the kids played and destroyed and watched a Christmas movie, the adults played games and drank and ate!
Look at what the big boys got!!!
Pizza Pizza!  We made our own pizzas and shared more time together.  It was a wonderful day.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas at our home!

Christmas Day is always my favorite day of the year...partially because we don't have to travel anywhere, partially because its just US, partially because we stay in PJs all day and watch movies and eat and play, and partially because we get to feel the magic of Christmas in the most perfect place on Earth- our HOME!

The children got everything they asked for from Santa this year ( they know that I asked Santa to only bring small things that can fit in a stocking.  Therefore, my kids don't ask for big things ever-its nice!)
My favorite part is opening the homemade gifts the children made us at school.  They have such pride.  Since  I am Amara's teacher and knew what hers was, this year she made hers just for Daddy....a picture of her dressed up as an elf!
Alaric made two special projects.  I got to open his first weaving work from Art Class....he turned it into an ornament for me.
And he made an ornament with his picture on it too!
At The Fulton home,each of us only received 3 gifts.  They have categories in order for us to make sure the focus of Christmas is on being together, making memories and doing stuff, not having just for you, one to do away from the home, and one to do at home.

Mara's gift to do away from the house....go to a U of I Women's Gymnastics Meet!
Alaric's to do away from the house....Lazer Tag at Skateland!
Mine to do at home...Sound of Music DVD and popcorn!!!
Brian's to do at home....The Price is Right and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire DVD Games!
Amara's gift for at activity bag filled with DOZENS of activities in ziplock bags she can do on her own or with a friend or family member.  All supplies needed provided with instructions.
Alaric's gift just for him...all things NINJAGO!  Lego set, two books, undies, and tshirt!
My gift to do away from the house....A Family Photo session with my friend and photographer, Carrie Bodznick! ( obviously I was overjoyed- you know how I love pictures of my family!)
Amara's gift just for her....Bitty Baby Twins.  She named them Jack and Annie ( the characters from Magic Tree House)
 Alaric's thing to do at home...Winter Blahs Jar and few activity supplies from the jar. Its a jar full of things he can do on his own or with others when he's bored....things like read a book, do a lego set, build a fort, do 10 pushups, create a ninja training camp, etc.
 My gift just for me....a personalized picture frame!
 Brian's gift just for him-BEER!
Brian's to do away from the house....CUBS CONVENTION in Chicago with my brother...3 days of baseball, beer, and boy stuff!
DESTRUCTION...and happiness!
We had a yummy breakfast, blew up the air mattress in front of the TV and settled in for movies.  In the afternoon, we went on a secret mission.  We completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University a few years ago.  Dave Ramsey recommends that if you are ever in a financial place to give alittle extra, give a heavy tip to a person in the service industry that is working on a major holiday.  Those people at restaurants and bars and gas stations and movie theatres and toll booths are not working because the WANT to work on Christmas but because they HAVE to.  So, the only thing open in Monticello on Christmas was Hardees. We decided as a family to drive to Hardees ( in our pj's of course) and buy one order of fries and then give the person a $20 bill and yell merry Christmas and tell them the change was for them.

Thats what we did....the person didn't know what to do.  he tried to give it back.  We all yelled Merry Christmas, handed him some chocolate covered pretzels we had bagged up as  gift and drove away giggling in delight!  Brian and I were beaming.  We loved doing it and we so excited to share it with our kids and make a difference to someone else's day in such a simple way....and we knew we got through to the kids about our "secret mission" because as we drove the 45 seconds back to our home, the children were already planning what we could do for others to surprise them on the next holiday!!!! TRUE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT!!!!
More food, more movies, and more games to follow in the evening.  Who doesn't love the game Operation?
Another Amazing Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Twas the night before....and we LOVE this day.  
Advent books, of course they were Twas the Night Before Christmas ( I collect them)
Then to the calendar.  Every Christmas Eve they get to go on a hunt for baby Jesus around the house.  I positioned myself at the end and had Brian run around the house documenting. Clue #1: Where do our guest lay their heads? THE GUEST ROOM!
Clue #2: Find Mommy and Daddy's wedding picture ornament on the tree- LETS GO! ( look at Mara in motion to get a head start)
There it is, There it is!!!! Clue #3: I love Barbies!  TO THE BARBIE CABINET!!!
There they are!
We love our nativities. The kids got to put them under their trees in their bedroom!
Then to the tree for gifts.  On Christmas Eve, we each get new jammies.  Brian got Bears
I got Christmas trees
The kids got super cute jammies too but they also get an ornament that reflects them from this past year....Ballerina and Karate guy for sure!
After baths and some primping, we got ready to go to Grammy & Papa's ( it was my first trip OUT in public)
We sprinkled some reindeer food on the lawn and headed to Champaign.
Veronica and Amara LOVED to dress up in Grammy's furs ( Amara got to use Grammy's muff from when she was a little girl but V enjoyed having it again too)
Grammy played a little piano with the big kids
and then family pictures!
The stockings were hung....( look at all of them)
Grammy & Papa love these 4 more than anything in the world!
We love getting to be together with The Bechtels

And then the highlight of the every Christmas Eve....a reading of Twas The Night Before Christmas.  The kids pile on the loveseat and Grammy and Papa start reading.
And almost always Dan and I ( and sometimes Brian and Jen too) must out into creative interpretation and acting of the story.  Dan and I worked pretty well together, even with me seated!
We did stockings and cookies and hot cocoa too and then headed to church.
After church on our way back home, we drove through Urbana to Candlestick Lane and enjoyed the lights (we were able to show the kids our first house which is right off of candle stick lane)
And when the children were all snug in their beds....Santa arrived and filled the stockings
( those gifts to the right are for 10 people day after Christmas, not for our Christmas morning, I promise....keep reading)
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Galesburg

Yup, that's right....3 days after surgery, I got in the car and travelled more than 2 hours to Galesburg for the weekend.  Don't worry- my foot was up on pillows on the dashboard the whole way there and mostly I laid in a recliner.
It was a wonderful weekend and I'm so glad I was well enough to go and well enough to remember.

Santa came early to Nana and Grandpa's and brought one very special gift....a karate kick bag for Alaric
And a Brave doll and matching dressup for he knows them well!
Christmas with Nana and Grandpa is always special
Oh, and Brian and I were there too!
We waited for Anita to arrive before diving into brunch and gifts.  Look and my sweeties!

They really do love each other!

We opened and opened and opened gifts.  The kids were so happy.  Mara loves her Doc McStuffins doll from Aunt Anita ( she got a smaller one from her Godmother and her response, " (gasp) I have one for my crib and one for my purse!"
Brian's parents and sister and us are traveling to Outer Banks, NC this summer to a beach house.  Chris and I got sun hats- cant wait to wear it!
And Nana made me, Mara, and bitty baby all matching jammies!
Bubba and Daddy got Angry bird ones!
Since leaving the house was out of the question, we watched movies and in the evening played Minute to Win It Games.  We love these games.  And they are great for all age groups.  We've played it with 3 year olds and 80 year olds!

And cripple people can participate too!
Today the kids got all fancied up for the Nelson Family Christmas.  My camera batteries died so I don't have any from the event but I did get cute family pictures!!!

What a wonderful Christmas!