Saturday, December 9, 2017

Gingerbread teamwork and PJs at Union Station

When I sat down to put together the advent calendar this year, I really truly could not decide what to do about the "gingerbread issue". I've done all the different spins on gingerbread houses that I or Pinterest can think of! We're out of ideas....

Then Lori texted and asked if we might like to come over and build houses with their family.


And all we have to do is bring sprinkles and little decorations?


So, she actually BAKED the gingerbread. This is a real woman, my friends. 

We started to work on our house. It's been a while since we've had to share and combine our efforts on a single house. Elbow room was at a premium.

From the beginning, we decided on a "more is more" approach.

Angels? yep!
Light posts?  2 please!
5 wreaths? Why not!
Snowball fort? Make it bigger!

Santa in a safety harness ready to spike a present down the chimney?

Make it happen.

We settled on the wheat chex shingles.

The McDonald's opted for Necco wafers...I was a little envious.

Until Laney built our hazelnut cookie swing. That seemed to even us up a bit.

It turned out crazy and cluttered and had a little bit of everything on it. It represents our family to a tea...

The other event we pulled from advent pocket #9: Head to Union Station in Kansas City to watch The Polar Express. In our pajamas.


It was a fun new addition to our Christmas tradition!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

An Advent Breather

After 16 years of planning the advent calendar, you learn to schedule in some "light days". Today all we had on the list was Anna's special gift. She was underwhelmed by it, but I'm okay with that. You can't win them all.

The rest of the day was spent on this:

Which means my family won't go into strawberry jam withdrawals when the last drop hits the toast.  It's important to keep the sugar flowing around here. Also, I would like it to be known I did not style that photo with pine cones. I brought those in for a Christmas craft so that I could procrastinate one more thing. So we've been cleaning around the cones for a week.

Tonight I spent hours hanging out with Ethan and trying everything I could think of to convince him to do his homework. I threw peanut m&ms at his head, threatened to text his friends, watched a movie in 15 minute increments in between assignments.

There are worse ways to spend an evening.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tuba Christmas, Pizza Heaven, Hard Work Rewarded and Tux Brothers

Well, that was a day.

Ran into Crossfit for a workout and was happy it didn't involve any type of squatting. I'm still trying to recover from whatever wonky back injury is making my hip scream. 

Home to shower and go pick up Lauren and Jovee for our Tuba Christmas outing! 

We had a streak of luck and managed to make record time and find free parking right across the street, walk right into the Kauffman Center and up the stairs just as someone was saying that the second flight led to the perfect seats on the Mezzanine. Right as we reached the top, they opened the doors and we sat right down! Couldn't have gone smoother with a police escort. 

Everyone needs a selfie with their little girl at the Tuba Christmas.

I wasn't prepared for the sound that is made when 375 tubas (and euphoniums) play "We wish you a Merry Christmas."  It was fun and lighthearted. They played each carol twice, we got to sing along the second time through. I loved it....Everly not so much.

She mainly covered her ears, and loudly asked "if we could go now!?". I tried to hold her on my lap and help her sing along. That bought me about 6 minutes. Then I let her use my phone to take as many pictures as she wanted....

of my eyeball.

And the ceiling...which was pretty good!

Checking on her tonsils.

And her duck lips

13 carols and an encore later, and we were on our way back to the van...I was sending up a silent prayer that it hadn't been towed away.

Beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Lauren knows all the secret little eating places in Kansas City and she took us to get some authentic Italian style pizza at Il Lazzarone. And I am telling really was the best. I ate my whole pizza! It was only my pride that kept me from going back and using the crusts to squeegee of the rest of the balsamic glaze and leave my plate sparkling clean. 

If I go back again...I need to remember to get the Formaggio with apples and balsamic glaze. 

We drove back to Olathe and started the lengthy process of picking everyone up from seriously takes me an hour to get everyone. And that is if they are actually getting out! Add on clubs, credit recovery...ugh.

Off to gymnastics for Anna. She recently got asked to join MiniTeam and she's killing it. She's a strong little thing! While she was there, I took Mathew over to Target to buy his Nintendo Switch. He's been mowing lawns, raking leaves, painting and babysitting for months to save up for this. He is so excited he's actually nervous! But, alas, Target didn't have any in stock. We went back to the gym and called all the stores around us to see if there were any. We finally found one at a GameStop in North Olathe. We figured we had just enough time to zip over there and grab it and then get back for his band concert. 

He was a little happy.

And I tell you, I'm proud of him. This is a boy who disappears to Price Chopper and returns with chocolate on his face every time he earns enough for a doughnut. It was exciting to see him catch the spirit of saving up for something bigger. 

We zipped back home so he could change and we were off to the concert.  There were 4 bands, 13 songs, 4 fights over the pens and paper, 3 trips to the bathroom and 2 seat negotiations. 

But the boys looked great!

And just so you remember:


Sunday, December 3, 2017

3 Small miracles

1. Sophie the Elf has been found. She was feeling tired after her extended time away and needed a good soak.

1.Ethan was home this morning and he actually got to see us do the calendar! 2. Mathew is taller that the advent Christmas tree. The kid is growing.

Tonight we will have pizza, hang out in our pajamas and watch the Christmas devotional. After we go to Stake Conference and two different choir practices, of course.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Anna's 7th Birthday party and a Chiropractic Santa

Thankfully, Mark didn't actually take the boys camping. They packed up the car, looked at each other and decided to go get some dinner and go see "Thor Ragnarok".  Can't say I blame them...and it worked out for me because they helped me clean the house when the got home last night. 

I was up at 6 am rolling and cutting out the sugar cookies for the party. Luckily, I had a great helper. She has a natural understanding of how to get the most cookies from your dough...look how she goes around the edges! I'm so proud!

We got it done.

And before you know it, there were 13 first grade girlies in our kitchen, giggling and swapping markers. They decorated their own cocoa mugs and then moved on to selecting a few sugar cookies and jamming as much frosting and sprinkles as humanly possible on each one.

I love seeing her the center of attention. It's the main reason I like throwing friend parties. Everybody needs to feel that from time to time. And these little girls were particularly sweet. Each one excited to give their gift and the others complimenting them on their choice. It was so fun!

When the gifts were all opened, we all ran down to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"...the good one. The one that lasts 27 minutes.

The party was a success! Anna was happy and by 1:45 we were all done, everything cleaned up and we were on our way to Life Chiropractic to donate some toys to Toys for Tots.

Santa was there! And he was so sweet and kind to each of the girls. I love the looks on their faces as they spoke to him. It's still magical!

After we talked to Santa, each of the kids got an adjustment. I really hadn't planned on them doing it. My back was in 400 knots after supervising the Super Birthday Sugarfest. But they each went over and let them crack em and stretch them!

Laney is diggin her Pikachu hat.

The rest of the day we spent running kids back and forth to birthday parties, getting Ethan to work and then Mark and I attended the adult session of Stake Conference. We went out for Mexican with the Guenthers and had a good laugh. It was a full day!

I got a glimpse into our future as I waited up till nearly midnight for Mathew to come home from a babysitting job and Laney to get home from her party at a far-away friend's house. We Huffords are growing up.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent kickoff. Mine duckies are in row!

It's December 1st and it's time to start the advent calendar! Yesterday I had "finish the advent calendar" at the top of my to-do list. didn't get checked off. 

"Luckily", I usually need to get up with the boys to get them off to early morning seminary and so I had a couple early morning hours to kill.

Advent Calendar: 

Next....the Elf on the (are we seriously doing this?) Shelf

Unfortunately, the girls had been playing with her since the moment she came out of the box. Directly defying the Elf on the Shelf  "hands off" mandate. 

Megan was awake by then and helped me come up with a suitable solution for the day:

And I got the advent calendar planned, written and restored to the wall before any of the littles descended. It's Laney's year to pick out first (and last)!

She also got to open her special gift! (Mathew was shocked with how early in the month this was taking place. What can I say? Gotta keep them guessing!"

We also got to hand out the chocolate advent calendars! This year Aldi didn't sell them so we got a tip they were available at Trader Joes. It's fun to have different styles. Meg was especially exited to have one that gives her service ideas for each day.

The kids went off to school and Everly and I went to Maj-R Thrift and scored this big old Christmas flower arrangement for 5.99!

We pulled it apart, cut out some cardboard circles and glued them into our old flower pots. We started poking holes and glue in sprigs of this and that....

And soon we had two cute baskets to replace our dead mums on the porch! We also made use of a few of the pinecones the kids have collected in my old garden cart in the back yard.

Mark took the boys camping with the Scouts and I took the girls to the Melodia Bell Choir concert. It was lovely! And the perfect beginning to the Christmas Season.

It was all started by this awesome lady.....Diana Player has got to be the most tenacious person I know. She has kept this bell choir going through thick and thin. When one person has to drop out, she asks around until she finds a replacement. Just about everyone I know has played in that group at one time or another, including me! And Ethan!

Now to get on with preparations for Anna's Cocoa Party tomorrow morning. All I got to do is make 2 batches of sugar cookies, clean the basement and the main floor, make several colors of frosting and see if I can find that silly elf.