Saturday, December 24, 2016

1 Family x 12 (December)

Merry Christmas from this crazy family to yours!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Tree Cutting

There is no reason that I've waited this long to post these pictures, other than the fact that I just sort of forgot!  I figured I better get them posted before Christmas has come and gone!

We've been cutting a tree with Dan and Ellyn ever since I started dating Ryan.  Well, to be fair, he's been cutting trees for Christmas his entire life and I just sort of became part of the tradition - and what a fun tradition it is!!

A few years back the tree farm they'd been cutting at for years closed up shop and we ended up finding a new farm up in Woodstock.  As we moved from the townhouse in Aurora, to our first home in Hampshire, and then here, to Marengo, we've been moving closer and closer to our tree farm.  It's worked out great for us!  We're less than 20 minutes away from it now!

We like this place, Oney's in Woodstock, because we've always been able to find good trees and because they have some really cute things for the kids.  Mrs. Claus is there for the girls to talk to (scratch that "must do" off the holiday activity list) and there is a cute little barn with ornaments, wreaths, hot chocolate, warm pretzels and popcorn.

This year we even had Auntie Erin out cutting with us (we are SO HAPPY to have her back in Chicago!).  While Ryan was hauling our tree back to the truck Dan cut this tree for Erin and she and I carried it most of the way back ourselves.  Hazel helped...sort of :)  

Abby was a pretty good trooper.  Since I had Hazel and Ryan was on tree cutting/moving duty she ended up walking for a good bit of the day.  She wasn't super happy about it and wanted to ride on Ryan or Dan's shoulders the entire time, but with a little reminder that Santa was always watching...and a bribe of hot chocolate and popcorn when we were done, she managed to make it through (eye roll!).

So - three trees for three different houses.  Ours was up and decorated by the end of the weekend.  We put it in the basement again this year.  Mostly because we spend a ton of time downstairs and also because we're hosting Christmas day, as we have in the past, so having the tree in the space where we spend most of our time lounging, eating and drinking is perfect.

Funny story.  When we sat down to eat our snacks Abby insisted that we needed to pray first.  I think it's mostly because she led the prayer on Thanksgiving, just a few days before, and she loved being the center of attention.  But, try telling a 1.5 year old that she can NOT in fact eat the cookie on the plate in front of her until every sits down and Abby prays.  Yeah, right....!!!  Everyone else waited :)

One of my favorite parts of tree cutting is ticking this little tradition off the list at the same time.  Finding a Santa to visit and waiting around in line to see him can take forever (as most parents know) being able to see Mrs. Claus right here on tree cutting day is a win/win for me!  Abby did so much better this year, she knew what she wanted to ask for (a Hatchimal) and she wasn't too shy.   She wrote her name on Santa's Good List and even Hazel gave us a smile for pictures.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas prep 2016

For quite a few years now, my parents have hosted Thanksgiving at their house.  We're so lucky that Dan/Ellyn and even Erin are willing to make the drive to Freeport so we can all be together in one place on Thanksgiving.

The day after, we've started full on holiday prep - starting with the girls making ginger bread houses. But, before I get to that project, let me brag about this pjs for a minute.  My mom used to make us pjs when we were younger.  I don't know that I remember getting them every year but I do remember going to help pick out the fabric, helping to cut out the patterns etc.  I remember one pair in particular that were for summer and had a beach scene on them.  I am pretty sure I wore them the morning Mom found the turtle nest while we were at Pawleys Island).  Anyways, this year, I asked Mom if she would be able to make Abby a nightgown and Hazel some pj pants to match.  Not only did she get a set down for my girls, but she got a set done for Kayden/Lincoln too.  So cute...right?

I think this latest adventure in sewing finally pushed Mom over the top to get herself a new machine - she got hers when they got married and she said it was 20 years old at that point!  I'm impressed it made it this far - but it's time to retire that baby and upgrade!

Come on, aren't these just the cutest pj's?  I'm jealous I didn't get a snuggly pair in my size!

Onto gingerbread houses. We've gotten smarter over the years and when I stumbled on these pre-assembled kits (including candy and frosting) for under $10 at Target, I snatched them up and knew we'd be set for Thanksgiving weekend.

Asking 4 year-olds to stop focusing on the candy and take a quick picture is just NOT going to happen.  I don't even know why I try ;)

Next year Hazel should be old enough to get in on the fun.  The cute house is now displayed on our dining room table along with the plate and milk bottle for Santa's cookies.  Slowly but surely, we're getting ready for Christmas over here!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beer Tasting 2016 (with a little Trick or Treating mixed in...)

We've been doing annual beer tasting (or Oktoberfest) for quite a few years now...could it really be 10?  Someone will have to look back and remind me.  Anyways, we've been doing it for a LONG time and, like my friend Lindsay always says, if there is one thing my family does well, it's, there you have it.  Last year I did a much better job of taking pictures but guys, the group is getting bigger, the kids are getting older and I'm doing a LOT of pouring and organizing during the event.  Someone else will have to take camera duty next year.

We had 14 beer entered, and one final winner.  Actually, dare I say, a Three-peat winner?  Andy (bottom center) has imported the winning beer three years in a row from Tryptic brewing in southern Illinois.  Well, I suppose technically, Bart entered the winner the first year, but Andy supplied it.  All different beers, all up against whatever other random beers the rest of us bring.  Three years running.  It's actually quite interesting if you think about it.

So - back to southern Illinois the paddle live for another year until we do it all over again.

During the half time break of beer tasting we took the kids trick or treating.  It actually worked out perfectly for a few reasons.  The adults need a break to eat, the kids do NOT find beer tasting interesting so this is something fun for them to do, and I'm going to miss Halloween this year because I'll be in Texas for work.  So, I was thankful to get the opportunity to snap a few quick pictures of my peanuts all dressed up and ready for Halloween.

Hazel was less than excited about the whole thing.  She was so tired and went to bed immediately following these pictures.

This year Abby said she wanted to be a dinosaur and wouldn't you know, Ellyn was able to find not just one but TWO cute, warm dino costumes for the girls.  Hazel doesn't have her own opinion yet so she gets to be whatever Abby wants her to be (for this year...).

Aren't these kids just the cutest?  The trick or treating was close by at a campground and it was just enough activity for the little kids.  The bigger kids went back out a second time while the adults finished up beer tasting but all in all, I think this little addition was a great one for 2016.

Happy beer drinking and Happy Halloween to all!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Abby (age 4)

Abby - you are a sweet, smart, little girl.  You've got so much personality and are so kind.  As always, you've got SO much to say and you crack me up every single day with the things you come up with.  The other day when I picked you up from daycare you told me that you got "wasted out" when you were playing outside.  I have no clue what that means, but it's a new phrase around our house and makes me laugh every. single. time.

Favorite color: Blue.  Nothing else to say here.  It's the only color you want to paint with.  The first crayon you pick out and the only marker you want to use.  It takes a lot of urging to get you to try something else.

You are an awesome big sister and Hazel is just getting old enough for you to start to see how fun having a little sister can be.  You try to teach her all kinds of things and I can tell already that the two of you will get into plenty of trouble together in the next few years.

Favorite Foods: Mac and Cheese or chicken nuggets but you prefer fruits and veggies over just about anything.  You are still a pretty picky eater but I have a feeling you eat much better at daycare than you do at home.  Maybe that's my fault.  How in the world will you ever grow if you don't eat protein?

We finally turned you front facing in your car seat.  You aren't quite at the max weight to flip you but you are four and taking a small bus to PRESCHOOL (how?!?!). On the bus, your car seat is front facing so we figured it was time to flip you in our cars as well.

You are very outgoing and your favorite thing to do is to have friends over to our house to play and swim.  But, you also have a shy streak, I saw it on the first day of school.  You stuck really close to me and spoke really softly.  You told me you were "sort of nervous" but, when I picked you up from daycare that night you were your normally bubbly self, telling me all about "the adorable potties and they have blue stuff in them that makes them really pretty!"

Favorite shirt/outfit:  Last year it was your "Greg shirt" hands down but this year this one is a little harder to answer.  I suppose the right way to answer it is that you don't have a specific favorite but you really want to pick out your own clothes each morning and will only let me choose once in a great while.  You also really love it when you can be "matchers" with your sister.  I suppose I should embrace that right now.  I have a feeling that phase won't last forever.

Favorite stuffed animal: Owie - always and forever.  He goes with you just about anywhere you go.  Though, you've done REALLY well with not being able to take him to pre-school.  I wasn't sure how you'd react when I told you that you couldn't take him to Ms. Shannon's room but you seemed unconcerned.  And, I'm noticing that Owie is getting the boot for your blanket at daycare these days.  Not every day, but once or twice a week you choose to bring your blanket and not Owie with you.  I've told you you can only take one (mostly because I can't keep track of remembering to bring them all back home at the end of the day).

It's clear to me after a few weeks in preschool that you are a little sponge for everything that happens there.  The other night we sat down in your room to read your bedtime story and I said "The Bearenstein Bears Forget Their Manners" - reading the title - and you responded "Psalm 40, verse one".  You literally made me laugh out loud kid - you are something!

Height and Weight:  You've grown an inch since we measured you on your birthday so I'm pretty sure we're in the throws of a growth spurt.  You weigh just over 30 lbs and are 39 inches tall.  You're in the 0-10% range for both height and weight.  You've always been on the teeny side.

Favorite TV shows:  Again - I'm not sure if I can pick a single favorite right now.  You're channel is definitely Disney Jr. but you'll watch just about anything that comes on there.  We've gotten away from the DVR for you because it's too much work for me to always be coming over to reset or restart something so you're pretty much stuck with whatever is on that time.

Bears or Packers?: You love the "Go Pack, Go".  There's not very much else to say here.  I think the Green and Gold have won your heart.  You swear up and down that Hazel likes the Go Pack, Go too which is NOT what Daddy wants to hear.  We'll see where she ends up falling.  She's not quite old enough to have an opinion yet.

Fears: One of your biggest fears these days is public restrooms.  Not the restroom so much as the automatic flushers and automatic hand dryers.  It's literally the first thing you check out as soon as we walk into public restrooms.  If there are auto flushers you rarely relax enough to go pee...and all bets are off if you hear someone next to us flush or the hand dryers start!  You say you're all done - even though you aren't and we're inevitably stopping to pee again 10 minutes down the road. 

Favorite Movies:  You saw your very first movie theater movie this summer with Grandma and Finding Dory is now your favorite toys (outside of Owie of course...he's your number one guy).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pumpkin Patch 2016

You guys, there is a great pumpkin patch not far from our house that we've been going to since Abby was born.  But, here's the thing - the weather is ALWAYS crap every. single. time we've gone.  Last year it was cold and rainy....this year, rainy, but slightly warmer.  What's up October?  It was 80 degrees on our wedding day in 2010....why couldn't we get a sunny, 80 degree day at the pumpkin patch?

We're so happy the Cunningham family decided to brave the crap weather to join us at the pumpkin patch.  Abby and Bradley are always great at playing together.  They had such a fun time and I'm so thankful to have another 4 year old around so they could entertain each other.  HA!

The pumpkin patch has this cool pumpkin eating dinosaur that I've posted about at least one before. There are links to 2014 and 2015 here.  It's Abby's favorite part of the whole pumpkin patch.  She's been talking about going there for WEEKS and when we finally got there, she was so afraid of the dang thing.  This kid, she kills me!

The corn pit was a huge success - as it always is.  It was a covered, rain free area, and the kids just love digging around it in.  Even the babies (Hazel and Brennan enjoyed it!).  Heck - even the dad's loved it.  Maybe we should make on in the back yard?  Hum - maybe for 2017.

Friday, October 7, 2016

1 Family x 12 (October)

Man, I know I'm totally biased, but that is one cute family sitting there.  Look at Hazel's face.  I mean, come on!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Princess Party

A few weeks back we packed up the family and drove down to visit Joey and Andy in Iowa.  It was the weekend of my Mom's birthday and we had a fun little surprise planned for the girls.  We were going to a Princess Party in Davenport on Sunday morning.

The girls loved the idea of getting all dressed up in their princess gowns and getting to hang out for a few hours with the princesses they see on TV all the time.

Abby got to meet quite a few of them, but this is one of my favorite pictures from the day.  I loved that Cinderella got right down on the ground to talk to the girls.  Abby was showing her the little princess necklace my Mom gave both girls before the party.

They had a craft section, a snack bar and lots of music and dancing.  Kayden was definitely more outgoing when it came to going and talking to the princesses.  Abby was shy and a little more reserved but I expected that.

Going to the party was a good opportunity to test out just how much Abby would enjoy going to Disney.  We're planning a trip for this time next year and I think it will be the prefect time for her.  Last winter we took her to see a Disney on Ice show and I was surprised by just how excited she was to see the characters.  She was truly upset when she thought Mickey didn't see her was adorable.

It's fun that these two cute cousins are getting older and starting to have memories together.  We're always surprised by the stories and memories Abby pulls out of her back pocket but at age 4 I think we're almost to the age that she'll be able to remember these moments when she's an adult.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

1 Family x 12 (September)

It's Fall ya'll and the McGrath family is loving the cooler weather, return of football season and all of the fun holiday traditions that go along with the last three months of the year - including rainy trips to the pumpkin patch.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

We spent Labor Day weekend at Ryan's family lake house in Indiana, as we do most years.  The weather was cool, starting to feel like fall, but warm enough that there was still plenty of people in the water soaking up some of those final days of summer.

Ellyn and Dan both grabbed my camera one afternoon while we were out on the pier and they got some great candid pictures of some of my favorite people.  There isn't a ton to say about them...just a random assortment of pictures.

So - sit back and enjoy a quick post with a ton of pictures and very few words.

Since I'm usually the one behind the camera, I've noticed there are so few pictures with me actually in them.  I need to work on getting Ryan to pick up the camera for a few minutes so I can have more sweet pictures like these!

One of the Peso cousins (extended family on Ellyn's side) has triplets that are 12 now (I think).  They came out to spend the day with us at the lake and Abby could not have been more thrilled to have some kids that would play with her.  She normally gravitates toward Greg, Ryan and Dan when we are at the lake, but when the kids were there, she only had eyes for them.  It was GREAT!

And that meant that these two idiots could spend some time just being normal (yeah right).  They actually went to a concert in Joliet on Saturday night.  They stayed up too late (think 3 am) but Ryan said that the concert was awesome.

These water squirters were definitely the hit of the weekend.  Fun for kids and adults apparently.