I have been meaning to write a blog post for months. Like I was going to write one about our Thanksgiving celebration that turned into Barforama 2013. And then I was going to write about Christmas, and New Year's. But now it's January 8th (my nephew's birthday! Happy birthday, Iz!) and I haven't written anything, so I suppose I'll roll them all into one giant post.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year. Dusty likes to have it at our house when the Packers play on Thanksgiving so that he doesn't have to worry about missing any of the game. They got killed by the Lions this year, so meh, but we enjoyed having the family over.
My mom and Bryan live in DC and they drove back just to be here for dinner. What a long drive! But we were so happy to have them there.
Dinner was good - the usual no-frills kinds of events that we enjoy with the family. There was lots of food - my sisters-in-law brought dishes to add to what I'd made, and we all ate like kings. The kids played with each other and we had a nice time.
I love this one of my mom with some of the grandkids:
So thanksgiving was great! Until..
Until everyone got sick the next couple of days. A stomach bug spread like wildfire and out of the 22 or so people who ate dinner at our place, only 5 ended up not getting sick.
Oops. I swear it wasn't my cooking. It seems to have been a quick bug for all, but I felt especially bad for Mom and Bryan who were driving home to DC when it hit them.
Thanksgiving was late this year, and it really threw me off. I didn't get as many decorations up as I had wanted to, and of course I didn't get to all of the crafts and fun homemade gift ideas that I wanted to, but I did get some done. Like this cute yardstick star. Super easy to make - cheap too!
With the holiday season came school programs. Jake and Vali both had great music programs. Jake sang this duet to the song "Hallelujah" with a friend during his concert.
And Vali enjoyed her concert as well, even though it might not look like it:
Vali also had her first ever dance program. She started taking dance in October, and they did a very short holiday dance routine for the parents after class. It was great. She seems to be picking up dance quite well!
Last year I got together with my local sisters-in-law for some holiday baking. We did it again this year and had a great time. One of these years I'm going to kidnap my SIL who lives in San Francisco and bring her back here so she can join us too.
Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!
Our first Christmas gathering was held the weekend of December 14th in Lincoln with Dusty's dad and step-mom. Here are some fun pictures from that gathering:
This is one of the Reha boys hanging out with their dad and Uncle Mark:
My father-in-law is scratching his head at their conversation:
There are always tons of kids running around (mine usually have faces full of chocolate!)
It's pretty much chaos:
Our second Christmas get-together was at Dusty's mom's house. Another wonderful time spent with family:
(Natalie gave Vali that scratch on her nose by scratching her with a toenail. Nice.)
Christmas at our house was especially nice this year. I can't put my finger on why, but it didn't seem as stressful or as frenzied as usual. It was peaceful and relaxing and always great to have Brie home. We continued with our old traditions of opening up Christmas pajamas and watching "It's a Wonderful Life" (It makes Dusty cry, so the whole family keeps their eyes on him to see when the tears will flow. Cracks me up.)
(I had to include this photo because the dog insisted that he was in it too!)
We went to mass on Christmas Eve. Jake sang in the church choir and Nati was as terrible in church as usual, but had Grandma to play with, so she was happy. Being surrounded by our friends at church made me feel safe and happy.
Here are some photos of the magic of our small Christmas celebration.
And, of course, yummy food:
We had a few days to spend together, and it was great. We spent time reading, playing games and watching movies - like the entire Lord of the Rings series. It took us days, but we finished them!
Our last Christmas gathering was held at my brother's house with my side of the family. My nephew Brannon and I were rocking the candy cane stripes:
As usual, it was pure chaos with all of the kids tearing into their presents and zooming around the house. There were hugs, food, drink, and fun. No better combination in the world. Thinking about it puts a big goofy grin on my face.
New Year's Eve
Here's where I admit that I'm a grump and don't like New Year's Eve. I am not a night owl. I get itchy when I'm up after 10. No, seriously. I start to itch. It's some weird symptom I get when I'm overtired.
Originally the family had talked about spending NYE in Kansas City at my brother's house, but for some reason, those plans fizzled. Nobody wanted to drive with the kids, maybe? I'm not sure. So we ended up with nothing to do. I was in the middle of a good book and had planned on spending a few hours reading it before turning in. But then I saw my sister-in-law had posted a fun activity that she was doing with her boys for the evening. Each hour they got to pop a balloon that had an activity inside for them to do. I thought it sounded like a fun way to bring on the New Year, and I knew Vali especially would love it. I didn't have any balloons, so I just wrote down the items on a notecard and we drew them out of a hat.
I took some videos of each one that you can see on Instagram but I can't figure out how to imbed them here. The activities were: to do the chicken dance, to throw confetti (Nati LOVED both of these!), to do a group hug, to scream as loud as you could for 30 seconds (Vali loved that one!) and to go around the room and have each person say what they loved most about 2013. Turned out to be a fun way to celebrate. (Thanks for the idea, Kim!)
So there you have it. 2013 is done and gone. It was a good year for us, and we are hopeful for another like it. There are more blessings in our lives to count, and this luxury isn't lost on us.