Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas 2015

While Christmas morning has come and gone, there are a few pictures I couldn't resist sharing with you all.  Like last year we had a low key Christmas day right here at home with the girls, our pj's and a yummy dinner.  My parents spent Christmas down with Joey and Andy this year.  Dan, Ellyn and Auntie Erin came to our house for the day and we had a great time!

Aside from more presents than anyone can count we had a delicious beef brisket that we smoked.  It's a long story how we decided on a 13 lb brisket for 5 adults but man was it good!  We started it on Christmas Eve around 10 pm thinking it would take MUCH longer than it actually did to smoke.  Which, ultimately meant that Ryan spent an hour fiddling with it at 3am in the garage in his underwear, but it wouldn't be an exciting story without that!

Long story short, we learned a ton with this first brisket and while there are some things we'll do differently next time, it turned out awesome!  And we have plenty of left overs frozen for future delicious dinner!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!  Bring on 2016!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Visiting Santa

Two weekends ago we were back in Freeport for Ritterbusch family Christmas.  Near my parents house there's a family that does a really great Christmas display of lights and a few nights during the season Santa even visits for a few hours.

Santa wasn't scheduled to be there on the night we were visiting but my Mom called ahead to see if he could make a special appearance for the girls.  It was really special and we were really lucky that busy Santa was able to fly down from the North Pole for a few minutes to sit with the girls.

The girls were in awe!  I was sure thankful because earlier this year when daycare had Santa come visit Abby told him "DeDe, you were a really good Santa".  That little sh*t!  How in the world did she know that?  She's THREE!

Since Santa was making the long drive just for us my Mom also invited Grace to come visit him as well.  Might as well squeeze in one more little peanut right?  There's always room on Santa's lap for good little girls and boys!

Hazel was actually sleeping when we got there so she'll have to wait until next year to see Santa.  I don't think she minded.

We sure were lucky to get this special experience all to ourselves.  Mom said that a friend of theirs took their kids on a night when Santa was scheduled to be there and they waited over an hour to see him!  Thanks Mom and Dad for organizing this special event for us!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

1 Family x 12 (Dec)

On Christmas Eve there couldn't be a more perfect family photo....Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Baby Cunningham (Quilt)

You guys, my quilt making has slowed to a very slow pace.  Like a snail.  So slow!  Most of it is having a newborn, some of it because work has been crazy busy but I'm dying to get back at my machine.  Luckily, I started this guy quite a few months ago right after Hazel was born and when I was still on maternity leave.  This guy is for a very special friend of ours, Betsy.  She's due with her second around the end of Jan.  Which meant that I had plenty of time!  But, Bradley, Betsy's first had his own plans about when he'd be born and came into the world at just 31 weeks.  So, I knew I needed to get this quilt done early.

I can NOT tell you how much I love this quilt.  There has never been a more perfect example of a quilt that I personally would love.  I mean, I love all of the quilts that I make, but if I was choosing a color scheme for my very own quilt, it would look just like this.  It's blues and greens with a little bit of yellow and lots and lots of grey.  Basically that equals Sadie to a tee.

There are over 200 fabrics in this quilt and over 750 - 2 inch squares.  It's scrappy and fun and so so pretty.  I tried fussy cutting for the first time as well.  For those of you that don't know, that just means that I'm very careful of the placement when I cut so that the squares include whole pictures, like that tiny Babar painting in the top left.

Betsy - we are so excited to meet your new little girl (or guy....yes, she too decided to be surprised).  I'm secretly hoping girl, but we'll love them either way.  I hope he or she loves this quilt to death and drags it around everywhere!  Quilts were made to be used and loved so let the babies spit up all over them...that's life!  We can't wait to meet you Baby Cunningham (though not too soon!  Keep baking!).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gingerbread Houses

Last year my mom started the tradition of doing gingerbread houses with the girls.  Well, it's really a resurfacing of a long standing tradition of doing gingerbread houses with Danny and Stephanie from when Joey and I were kids, but the girls don't know that :)  

I'm not going to lie, pictures are getting harder and harder with this one.  She's figured out the fake "cheese" smile and no matter how hard I try for a real one, they are hard to get!  

Abby did SO good with her house this year.  I did the frosting (it's hard to squeeze) and she did the decorating.  She so carefully placed those little tiny balls.  She reminded me SO much of me in that moment.  Most times her personality is all Ryan while her looks are mostly me....but I saw her quiet perfectionism and enjoyment of the process come out in this activity for sure!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Snow Day!

Well, you can tell I'm a little behind since the snow has long ago melted and has been replaced by sixty (60!!!) degree weather in mid December.  I'm not complaining, I love not having to stuff Abby in a giant coat into her car seat or having to bundle up just to leave the house, but I do miss the snow and hope that it'll return just in time for Christmas.  It just doesn't seem like Christmas without snow and it certainly won't feel right if it's raining and sixty out!

This is probably the first year that Abby was truly excited about the snow and really able to play outside in it.  She was so pumped to get her snow boots on and get outside in the snow.  We were probably out there by 8am.  Luckily it all fell on a Friday night into Saturday so we had all day to enjoy it instead of stressing about getting to work/daycare.  We played, made snow angles, made hot chocolate, watch movies on the couch and just relaxed at home.  We NEVER do that!

Check out Abby's adorable Fox River Millwork Carhart.  Just like Daddy's.  My parents got this for her last Christmas and it still fits.  She loves dressing up just like her Daddy.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas Tree Cutting 2015

Ryan's family has a tradition of cutting a Christmas tree the weekend of Thanksgiving.  While I grew up with a fake tree and have loved the convenience of grabbing it from the attic, not debating over the height and width our house could accommodate and the ease of tossing it right back in the attic year after year, I've come to love this tradition and look forward to it each year.  Besides, we wouldn't be McGrath/Ritterbuschs' if we didn't have traditions!

A REAL smile from my little peanut is hard to come by these days.  She's in that whiney three year old phase and has learned the fake "Cheese" smile (below) so I love when I can snag a real one on film.  Abby was very excited to talk to Mrs. Clause.  She asked for "Jakes", as in Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I think I'm going to sit down and help her write a letter to Santa mostly because I want to document all the hilarious things she asks for year over year.  She told Ryan the other day that she wanted "salads" for Christmas so it should be interesting!

She got her pick of either the Santa cookie, a Snowman, or popcorn...who is surprised that she picked Santa??

Mostly I'm just excited for the photo montage that we'll be able to create one day documenting how our family has grown and aged.  It was just two short years ago that I was carrying Abby around in the carrier inside my coat!

We picked a rather short tree this year because we decided to put it in the basement instead of our upstairs living room.  In the winters we spend most of our evenings downstairs by the warm fire.  And, since I work from home, in the basement office, I pretty much spend my entire day downstairs.  Now, when I look out the office door I get to see our pretty Christmas tree all decorated and twinkling all day long.  Talk about a day improver!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

1 Family x 12 (November)

I don't think I've ever posted two family photos for the month before but I just couldn't pass up the first one.  Abby's face and snowsuit combo just crack me up and Hazel's smile is too perfect to pass this one up.  Plus, Abby will love this picture someday when she's older....

But, for good measure, we've also got a good one for the month as well!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hazel's First Foods

I've got a few blog posts to catch up on here before the end of the year and printing my annual book! We recently started feeding Hazel her first baby food...and let me tell ya, she loves it!  Except for the peas, those, not so much.  We started slow with baby oatmeal but it didn't take us long to move through all of the stage 1 foods.  The above picture is one of her very first bites of food...those eyebrows, they slay me! 

At first there was a lot of spitting and very little swallowing, but it didn't take her long to catch on at all!  Now, about 2 weeks after starting she's gulping down baby food like it's her job!  This kid goes through three jars a day.  It seems like a lot to me but I honestly can't remember how much Abby ate at this stage.  

After the oatmeal we tried Apples (above), mostly because it was the only jar of baby food I had in the house.  I hadn't technically planned on starting her that week but one night I forgot to leave some milk unfrozen to mix with the oatmeal so I grabbed a jar of apples and figured we'd give it a shot.  She thought it was super sour but she loved that too.

After the experiment with apples I went out and stocked up so we had some choices.  We went for the veggies first since it's hard to get them to eat veggies after they've had that taste of sweet fruit.  We did peas first, which she gaged on but finished...then did sweet potatoes and carrots next followed by the remaining veggies and onto fruit.  We've had them all now (even prunes) and she's loving it!

It's big moments like these that remind me how fast time flies and how quickly these babies change.  I mean, just a month ago she wouldn't have been able to sit up in this chair and now she's hanging out with us at dinner like she's always been there.  After this holiday weekend and having her around for 4 whole days (instead of at daycare and just home in the evenings) I'm realizing how much she's changing.  She's now intentionally grabbing for things, like her paci and toys and can actually manipulate them into her mouth or switch them from hand to hand.

I was just telling Ryan last night how each time we go to the doctor they list off all of the things she should be doing by our next visit (in two months) and it always seems impossible that she'd be able to change so much, so quickly...but yet, two months pass quickly and we're there, answering "yes" to all of the "does she does this now?" questions and getting a whole new list of things she'll conquer before our next visit.  Stop growing little girl!  Stop it right now!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween 2015

If you saw the sort of crappy Halloween pictures I posted on Saturday know that the above picture was my vision for these.  I attempted to use a "green screen" so that I could create these cute little pictures highlighting the cute little costumes the kids were dressed in.  In reality though, the green I had wasn't quite right which made photoshopping hard...but the above picture came out nice right!?!

Abby said quite early on that she wanted to be Pinocchio for Halloween.  She saw the play this summer when Hazel was born and has been pretty much obsessed since then.  She then said that she wanted Hazel to be Jiminy Cricket, Daddy could be Gepetto, Mommy as the Blue Fairy and Erin could be the donkey!  Poor Erin!  Erin was actually in Colorado so she wasn't a part of the family costume.  And, I had a pretty poor showing this year as well, so poor in fact that we actually didn't even get a family photo this year. We'll do better next year!

Stella made one pretty cute little mouse! I'm so disappointed that my green screen didn't work out.  This would have been so cute without the wrinkled sheet in the background....wah wah.

We definitely should have gotten Abby used to that nose earlier in the week.  She was pretty anti but has since decided it's pretty funny and it's now a staple around the house.  She mostly didn't like it because it was "stinky".  It smelled a little like plastic at first but has aired out and is ready for use!

Here's Hazel's Jiminy Cricket outfit.  I did have a little headband for her with antennas but that didn't last long either.  Sigh!  Pictures are hard with a peanut that doesn't sit up year we'll be back to our normal selves and be dressed to the nines!  At least the girls will be.  Halloween IS about the kids.

This year's party was not the traditional all out drink-fest that Ryan used to host.  We had a much smaller crowd and many more little people running around.  We did pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating and had an all around great time.  The boys still drank plenty....all of the girls except Jamie were either pregnant or nursing (see...not the usual party Ryan's used to).

The pumpkins turned out great and I even made pumpkin seeds that night out of the insides.  Somehow we forgot, for the second year in a row, to grab candles for the insides but Zach saved the day and ran home to grab some for us.

By far the best part of the whole evening was Trick-or-Treating with the kids.  The weather was "eh" but we were able to visit a few houses when the rain finally stopped.  The kids LOVED the Barbie car and Bradley and Abby took turns driving.  They were terrible at driving and it took all 5 adults to keep them out of the ditch and on the road.  But it was a ton of fun to watch.

At one point Ryan took the child safety off the engine regulator and the kids were running that Jeep at maximum speed.  Probably the funniest part of the whole night was when I looked up to see Pat one-handed stop the car as it nearly ran him off the road and into the ditch.  It's a good thing the adults out numbered the kids on this adventure otherwise their may have been causalities!

The little parade got even better when we decided to hook up the wagon to the car and let the kids do all the work.  Stella nearly got dumped more than once and we finally started buckling her in to keep her safe but the kids LOVED this little'll be a staple for next year for sure.  Complete with a beer carrier on the back of the wagon for adult Trick-or-Drinking.

The kidsdid not need much prompting to understand how trick or treating worked.  Abby was super pumped to get out and run up to the door saying Trick or Treat in her little cartoon sounding voice.  I know I'm biased, but she's super cute!

Bradley and Abby are awesome at playing together.  They are like two little peas in a pod and we love having them over!  We really need to spend more time with the Cunningham's...we've been hinting around that maybe they should move close to us...doubtful, but we'll see!