Hi, hi!! Happy Sunday! Did you all have a nice holiday week? Our Christmas (and the days leading up to it) were jam-packed, with never a dull moment. Shall we catch up on the details? I’ll warn you…it’s a long one!
Monday was kind of a busy day! We started the morning by delivering some gifts to our neighbors — homemade peach jam and applesauce, both of which I canned over the summer when the local fruit was ripe! Love that I didn’t have any work to do during this even-busier time of year.
After making our deliveries, I took the boys into Charlottesville for their dentist appointments. Gibbs tolerated the whole routine, while his younger brothers definitely did NOT.
Spence just wanted to play with the toys in the waiting room!
We had lunch at Panera — the boys love the mac and cheese, while I went with the Turkey Cranberry Flatbread and the Vegetable Soup with Pesto.
Sweet Frog frozen yogurt for dessert!
Then we ran off some energy at a playground before moving on with the rest of our errands.
I can hardly believe that the kids are playing outside without coats at this time of year, but I’ll take it!
Our last stop in the big town was at a real grocery store so that I could pick up a beef tenderloin from the butcher (for Christmas dinner), as well as some peppermint stick ice cream for lunch on Christmas Day. ‘Tis the season! We also grabbed some other goodies that are hard to find at our local country stores — Boom Chicka Pop and Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt (Spencer’s FAVORITE!).
Dinner that night was one of my easy go-to slow cooker recipes, which I wanted to remember to mention. You should totally try it: Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken Thighs. Served with rice and homemade applesauce!
Tuesday was a rainy morning, so we met my mom in Charlottesville at Jump for some trampoline fun.
At first Spence was a bit apprehensive, but he quickly warmed up to the idea and was soon off and running (or jumping)!
Gibbs loved the foam pit!
And I had a blast jumping around with the kids!
We will definitely be back this winter when we need some indoor exercise. Such a fun (and tiring) morning!
When our jump time was up, we met Aunt Barbara for lunch at Jason’s Deli (my favorite salad bar in town!). I was too busy keeping my tired and grumpy boys on good behavior to remember a photo! We quickly headed back home for naps. But I did manage to get a picture of this giant sticker book that Aunt Barbara brought for the kids:
It provided some perfect quiet afternoon entertainment while Spencer napped and I folded laundry and put these Sloppy Joes in the Crock Pot (I made them with beef this time, since that’s what I had on hand). I actually had to ask my mom to bring some ketchup with her into town since I realized that morning that we had somehow run out of ketchup. How does that even happen?! Time for another Costco run! I have a constant growing shopping list…can you relate?
Oh, and seeing those pictures from the morning at Jump reminds me: can we discuss Fabletics for a minute? Are you a fan? I just recently joined as a VIP member (so that I could get the discounted price) and I’m in love with just about ALL OF THE CLOTHES. This could be dangerous for my bank account! ? In the trampoline photos above I’m wearing one of my new faves — the Peary Top.
Wednesday morning we spent some time sorting through our toys, cleaning up, and making room for Santa’s deliveries. With these 3 involved, it was liking taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back. Definitely NOT productive cleaning!
My mom’s friend Kathryn (the Cookie Queen herself!) sent us a holiday package that included some gingerbread cut-out cookies as well as the decorating supplies.
It’s the best of all worlds! The kids have the entertainment of decorating, we all get to eat and enjoy the cookies, and there’s no dough-making or mess to clean up!
My elves were hard at work…
And of course, taste-testing…
Later that afternoon our neighbors and former babysitters, Catherine and Rebekah, stopped by to visit with the kids. You might remember them from a few of our trips up the road to their farm?
The boys ADORE these girls, so it was fun to catch up and see everyone jump right back into their old roles! Catherine and Rebekah also brought us one of their trays of goodies, complete with homemade kiwi jam (the BEST!!), spritz cookies, natural fruit cake, and kiwis grown on their own bushes. So, so YUM.
I also made the Cinnamon Toast Muffins from Paula Deen’s cookbook to have on hand as a part of our Christmas morning breakfast.
The kids gave them two thumbs up…but that’s no surprise. What’s not to love about muffins dipped in melted butter and coated in cinnamon sugar?!
And then FINALLY…the Christmas celebrations could begin!
On the morning of Christmas Eve we stayed close to home. I prepped the salad for Christmas lunch the next day, which included making a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (similar to the one in THIS recipe),
and cooking some bacon. Do you “bake” your bacon? If not, you should! It’s the best way that I have found to cook bacon without a total mess. Plus, it’s easy because it’s completely hands-off — no tending to a skillet. Just line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for easy clean-up), and set a wire cooling rack on top (this helps the fat drain off). Then lay bacon in a single layer on top of the rack. Cook at 400 degrees F until bacon reaches desired texture (about 10-20 minutes). If you like it crispy, it will probably take about 15-20 minutes. I like to use tongs to flip my bacon over halfway through. That’s it!
Once the bacon cooled I just chopped it up so that it would be ready for our salad the next day.
After lunch we drove up to Northern Virginia to spend the rest of the day with Keith’s parents.
Keith’s mom celebrates Christmas like nobody I have ever met. It’s her favorite holiday, and it shows! There are multiple Christmas trees in every room, decorations galore, more treats than the kids could dream of, and so many gifts that the boys think they’ve landed at the North Pole. There is so much joy, and we are very blessed!
Yoda from Uncle Jeff and Aunt Meghan was a big hit!
The older two boys had fun driving their remote control tanks outside before dinner.
And they were completely exhausted by the end of the night. All 3 of the kids were battling colds and coughs this week, so despite our efforts to get a picture in their new Christmas pajamas, they were melting down and ready to get in the car to sleep the whole way home. Hey, at least Chi-Chi is still smiling at the end of the night!
Our Christmas Day celebrations started around 7 a.m. when the boys came downstairs to see what Santa had delivered.
“Mama! Mama! I JUMP!”
I served a very easy, but tasty breakfast: Aunt Bee’s Sausage and Cheese Squares, scrambled eggs, cranberry English muffins, and the Cinnamon Toast Muffins that I showed above, along with some fruit and COFFEEEEEEE.
After breakfast Keith and I exchanged gifts, which we had agreed would only be stocking stuffers. He stretched the rules a little bit and hid a USB cord in my stocking, which was really the clue for a much larger package that was hidden elsewhere — a big new monitor and keyboard! I absolutely love my Macbook Air, but the screen is so small he could tell that I was straining to see the details when I edit photos, etc. This will be a very well-loved gift!
And just to balance things out, he also gave me some hot chocolate and some of my favorite chocolate squares, a giftcard to Chik-fil-A, a yoga DVD, and a Fitbit Charge HR (which I am SOOOO excited about). So many of my girlfriends have Fitbits and love them. I can’t wait to try it out…although I’m a little bit scared to see what it says about my sleep habits (or lack thereof). I took this photo of the gifts on the counter after I opened them because I thought it was such a great snapshot of me as a person: the computer, the fitness stuff, and the treats. It’s all about balance, right? Work hard, play hard!
The main gift in Keith’s stocking was concert tickets for us to see Eli Young Band in Charlottesville in February. Date night!!
Later that morning, my parents and Aunt Barbara and Uncle Gary arrived to continue the fun.
Our Christmas lunch was a team effort:
- Grilled turkey breast and honey baked ham (from Mom and Dad)
- Dinner rolls for sandwiches, plus Dad’s homemade pumpernickel bread
- Cranberry sauce (Mom)
- Pasta Salad (Barbara)
- Two different kinds of cheese logs and crackers (Barbara)
- A kale-blend salad that I made with the maple vinaigrette + red onion, bacon, feta cheese, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds
And the ultimate cookie tray for dessert, plus peppermint stick ice cream!
The afternoon was full of naps, clean-up, laser tag, and LOTS of Lego building. Check out the awesome new work table that Mom and Dad gave to the boys. It’s big enough for all 3 kids (+friends!) to work on their projects at the same time! They instantly put it to use.
Christmas dinner was just the five of us, so we kept it very simple. Keith grilled a beef tenderloin and I made some Crispy Oven-Roasted Seasoned Potatoes (a definite favorite around here) to go alongside. We also had some leftover salad and rolls from lunch.
We crashed early that evening after a very exciting and very exhausting day! Unfortunately, I was up multiple times during the night with Gibbs who was complaining of an ear ache. Needless to say, we headed to the pediatrician as soon as we could get an appointment yesterday morning.
Spencer came with me and Gibbs into town, where we made a quick stop at the grocery store,
and picked up lunch at Subway,
before our appointment with the doctor.
Our trip back and forth to the doctor took most of the day, since the office was PACKED with sick kids. We spent quite a bit of time waiting to be seen. But despite what the doctor called a pretty nasty double ear infection, Gibbs seemed to be feeling good. We picked up his medication at Target on the way home, and shortly after that he jumped in the car with Keith and Casey to go see the new Star Wars movie in 3-D in Culpeper. There was no way he was going to miss that outing!
Keith shared this pic on Facebook with the caption, “Star Wars, Force Awakens. Minds Blown.” Hah hah!
And this morning I’m running around the house trying to get my life back in order before the start of the week! Bed sheets, laundry, cooking, cleaning up toys…you get the idea. Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, friends! xoxo