Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas Celebration with the Denzer's!

Every Christmas/New Years, we always try and do something fun with our friends Jason & Lisa Denzer.  As our kids have gotten older (and our babysitters older with lives), we find it VERY hard to find a sitter for New Years.  This year, we decided to do something for the kids :)  

Today we all went to the House of Bounce in Rochester, MN!  It's an indoor park full of blow up-jump houses for kids (okay and adults!).  When we first got there, Callie didn't want to participate...but after she saw both mom and dad go down the big slide, she was all about it :) 

The pictures alone show you how much fun she had :)  She played her little heart out and was non-stop smiles the entire time!

Yup - even mom got in on the action :)

She ADORES Ava & Casey...I think she'd go home with them if we let her :)

The Denzer's!  Love this family :)

She actually got really good at climbing these - she was a rock star :)

Down by herself - what a big girl :)

This slide required you be a certain height!  Josh loved it :)  This is when Lisa and I noticed "No Pregnant Women allowed to go on the equipment!"  Oops!

Sure - our 21 month old daughter can go up these super steep stairs by herself...if she falls, it's just air :)  This so reminded me of Annie - at the end of the movie when she is climbing the train thing!


Oops - should have noticed that!  3rd picture on the top - No Pregnancies!  I think they meant 7-9 months :)

This was absolutely HILARIOUS!  Josh and Lisa had on these "vests" and they would run out as hard and as fast as they could - then they would reach a certain point and it would shoot them back super fast!  It was HILARIOUS!

They made a new friend :)

Taking after her mommy :)  PS - I had a better score than Josh!

After the House of Bounce, we all went to Broadway Bar & Pizza - it was DELICIOUS!  They had this train that would keep going around and around the restaurant.  Whenever it stopped, the kids would get mad :)

Callie was a ROCK STAR eater - ate an entire piece of pizza and finished the crust off of my plate :)  GOOD GIRL!

Needless to say, she crashed on the way home!  She was SUCH a good girl and had so much fun :)  Thank you Denzer's for a wonderful evening :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Four Days - Seven Christmas's

Yes, you read the title to this blog post correctly!  7 Christmas's in four days!  Let me just tell you how exhausted we are!  This probably sounds TERRIBLE, but it kept it easy for us for all the traveling we had to do...we spent 24 hours with each family!

Friday, December 23
Christmas # 1
Our suitcases were packed, our gifts were wrapped, organized by the house they went to, and placed into the car according to the time we would be needing them (wow did this save a TON of time this weekend).  Josh and I decided not to get each other gifts this year, but to make a gift for each other :)  Well, that took awhile, so we haven't exchanged that yet!  But we did have some gifts for Callie, so we let her open her gifts :)  She was very excited, most excited, about the train set we gave her!  It's a Little People train set and she loved it!  She immediately wanted it open and began to play with it :)

For some reason, she thought that posing in my closet was the place to be!  She stopped, smiled, and said CHEESE!  Ham :)

Christmas # 2
We made sure everything was in the car, and away we went...heading up to stop #1, Grandma Lynn's house :)  We arrived a little before 6:00 PM, just in time for a delicious ham and potato dinner with Grandma Lynn, Larry & Uncle Terry :)  The food was AMAZING!

Uncle Terry brought up this HUGE box of sunglasses, and said "Have at it" - so of course, I went through the box and cleaned house with 9 new pair :)  THANK YOU THANK YOU!  I pulled out piles for Lynn, Larry, my sisters & Larry's daughters :)  It was like Christmas...well, it was Christmas :)

Soon enough, it was time to open gifts!  Grandma wanted Callie to open her gift first!  It is everything Callie could possibly dream of...a crib for her baby dolls!  And what is that inside!?!  A NEW baby doll :) That makes noises and drinks from her bottle!  FANTASTIC!  Callie LOVES LOVES LOVES it :)  Great gift Grandma :)

Opening the gift from Grandma Lynn!  I think I was just as excited for Callie to open it :) :)

A CRIB FOR HER BABIES!  PERFECT!  Callie LOVED it and knew just what to do with it :)  She got right to work playing with her babies and taking care of them :)  Grandma even sewed the ruffle on the bumper of the crib, and knitted a blanket for her!!  The rug on the bottom is made by grandma too :)  So special :)

Yup - this was her night!  Getting her to open anything else was utterly impossible!

Somehow we managed :)  An awesome book that I have never seen before!

Callie trying on daddy's new Gopher hat :)  She LOVES Goldy :)

Callie helped Grandma open her present!  A picture painted by Callie...PERFECTION!  From one artist to another (man I should have written that on the tag!).  I sure hope Callie gets Grandma's artistic abilities vs. her mommies :)

Daddy rocking his new hat :)

Callie playing with Larry - you can tell he has daughters...he knew just what to do and wasn't afraid to do it :)

Callie's new dress from FL!  I love these dresses!  I'm so sad she grew out of her last one :(  But now we have a new one to grow with :)

Night night babies :)

We had fun opening gifts with everyone :)  Mom was so easy to buy for this year - everything I saw had her name on it (or I had it stitched on!)!!  Larry liked his slippers, because they came right out of the box and he didn't take them off :)  Callie loved her new toys and books!

We had some dessert, put Callie to bed, and played some very intense games of Yahtzee!  Poor Uncle Terry didn't realize how good I was :)  :)  He just didn't see my wins coming :)

Saturday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)
Bless Lynn's soul!  Callie woke up, well, I'm not really sure - she was up around 4/5 AM, so I pulled her in bed with me, because I was too tired to deal with her crying!  Then she woke up I think around 9 - and I wasn't ready to get up :)  So Grandma took her downstairs, played, made a delicious homemade caramel roll breakfast, and made a HUGE mess with all of Grandma's toys (she has a ton for Callie to choose from!)!!

Grandma's creativity soon struck and before you could blink, she, Larry & Callie were all building a Gingerbread house...out of a box, wrapping paper, stickers & Christmas cards!  It was such a fun sight to see :)  I didn't help, because this was their project :)

Oh yeah, and Twiggy helped :)

Callie fits PERFECTLY inside!  She can even stand up and still have some room to grow!

She must have been exhausted from all that hard work, because she laid down on Grandma's coffee table and decided it was time to take a nap :)  Silly girl :)

After lounging around in our PJ's most of the day, watching Christmas Vacation together, having a picnic lunch inside, and playing more games, it was time for us to head out to our next Christmas Celebration!  I got some very cute pictures of Miss Callie all dressed up in her finest Christmas dress :)

I love this picture too :) :)

Christmas # 3
Next up, we traveled to my mom and dad's house for the annual Shellum Family Christmas Eve get together!  Many years ago, it was held at my Grandma's house; however, with such a large family now, we moved it to my mom and dad's house :)  I like to think of this as the "Griswold Family Christmas!"  My family is loud, crazy and fun :)  We have a blast when we're all together.

Everyone comes and brings a dish to share - it's like a big pot luck, and I LOVE it that way!  Every year, I wait for my Uncles FAMOUS Onion Dip, my mom's meatballs and my aunts taco dip :)  I always bypass the gross fish - actually, I want to throw it out!

When we first arrived, my sister, Colleen, took Callie for us so we could unload the car.  I mean, hey, we had Christmas Eve, Christmas morning AND Santa gifts to bring!  My parents always have the "fire" turned on their TV as well - it adds a nice touch - don't you think :)  My favorite is when you see a random hand going in to add a log to the fire!

Merry Christmas from Josh, Cori & Callie - Wow - another year and look at where our lives are :)  I couldn't imagine living my life without Josh and Callie in it...and now we're going to have two more beautiful babies to share our love with  :)

My mom and dad have 7 (currently) grandchildren - Claire and Callie being the only two girls!  These two receive a lot of extra "Princess" love from their Gramma & Grampa :)  Look how cute they are - I don't blame them.  Claire is 12, so she has waited a VERY long time for a girl cousin (on this side of the family - she has a girl cousin on her dad's side).  She absolutely ADORES Callie...these two are like two peas in a pod - so cute :)   We're going to have Claire down this summer to play with Callie and give her lots of attention :)

My cousin Kelly (who couldn't make it because she was working and delivering Christmas Babies) has the cutest little boy, Easton!  He is a ham and makes Callie laugh pretty hard :)  These two were posing for us while we captured some cute Christmas pictures :)

I always wonder what toddlers are thinking - I mean, you look at this picture below and you can't help but wonder what is going through their minds!  Is Callie being silly and pushing him away?  Regardless, it's cute :)

My sweet angel!  I tell ya, this is the same look that I used to make :)

My other cousin, Rachel has the most handsome boy...Jack!  Between the three kids - their ages are: Jack 2.5 years, Easton 2 years, Callie 21 months - so they have fun when they are together :)  Callie and Jack sure hit it off - they kept stealing kisses from each other.  If they weren't so darn cute, I probably would have stopped them!

Finally, the moment this little girl has been waiting for - time to open her presents!  This gift was from her Auntie Heather, Uncle Brian, Cousins Claire, Jeffrey and Andrew - it was a beautiful Pony that lights up and talks :)  Callie LOVED it so much that she insisted it come out of the package.

Callie also received some coloring books and crayons from her Great Aunt Mary - she knew JUST what to do with those :) She walked over to her Great Grandma and the two of them starting coloring :)

It was the moment all the adults had been waiting for - the arrival of Santa Claus!  All of the little kids headed over to the "big window" to look for him - and low and behold, Santa came into the family room :)  Callie was so excited to see him.  She was yelling "Santa, Santa" and went and stood in front of him.  I captured this precious picture at the PERFECT time - I love the lighting - it makes it look like the spotlight is on the two of them during this magical moment!

Callie finally had her chance to sit on Santa's lap!  He gave her a gift too!  They had the chance to open it together - making it that much more special :)  She received a pencil, candy cane and a Princess Snow Globe (which she later dropped on my mom's window sill and caused it to crack - but only a little).

Here is my little Christmas girl posing for me, letting me know just how much she enjoyed her candy cane!

My Christmas Angel!

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could experience Christmas through the eyes of a child?  I wonder what she is thinking during a moment like this!

Christmas through the eyes of a child is absolutely priceless!  Even some of the big kids got involved.  And even though they may not believe anymore, they still keep this one special secret and believe that Santa really is REAL!

Here we are - all the crazies on Christmas Eve :)  We are missing 13 people in this picture (Heidi, Bruce, Tyler, Trey, Trygg, Kelly, Brenda, Joe, Cody, Casey & Cami, Nancy, Herold) - 15 if you include the two unborn twins :)  I'm hoping everyone can be there next year - the Bredlow's will be home from Japan, so hopefully we can get everyone there!


Growing up, I always wanted gifts (what kid doesn't), but seriously - I need absolutely NOTHING, because I have the most amazing family :)  I love my husband more than words can describe, and I am so happy to have him in my life every day!  And the fact that we have the most beautiful daughter to share our love with!  I can only imagine how wonderful our babies are going to be!  A family of 5...I couldn't be happier :)

Auntie Colleen sharing a special moment with Callie!  She's either telling her what Christmas ornaments "NOT" to touch, or which ones are her favorite!

Sure Callie, you can have this water bottle!  Sure, you can drink from it :)  Oh here, lets dump it in my hand...HAHAHA - I love Colleen's reaction to Callie dumping the water in her hand - now what are you going to do!!

I have a very similar picture like this last year - Callie absolutely ADORES her Grampa - and he adores her!  I love that they are giving each other kisses!!  Christmas love :)

Everyone starts leaving around 9:00 PM to go home to their homes, to prepare for their own family Christmas mornings!  I enjoy that every year, my uncle Doug hangs out just a little bit longer :)  This meant that Jack and Callie got more play time together :)  They were giving each other kisses, hugs, and he would pick up just about anything she wanted!  They were talking to each other and laughing together (nothing better than toddler giggles)!!!  They even colored together :)

Callie wanted to color with Gramma too :)  Who of course stopped cleaning to spend some quality time with her granddaughter!  It won't be forever that she'll want to stop and color :)

Callie and I went outside and threw the reindeer food on the ground that she made the weekend before!  Hopefully this will help Santa know where to find her!

The tradition in our house on Christmas Eve is one that I am going to pass on to Callie :)
1. Jammies - they must be on :)  (this includes brushing teeth)
2. Pick out the best cookies for Santa and filling up a cup of milk!
3. Writing a letter to Santa
4. Listening to dad read The Night Before Christmas.

My dad tried to pawn this one off on Josh, since Callie is his daughter, but Josh insisted that since it is his house - he reads!  So we all gathered around and listened to Grampa read The Night Before Christmas.

Callie and I have been practicing this story - my dad recorded one of those recordable books a few years ago for all of his daughters- I love listening to it :)

Here is the glass of milk, plate of cookies (with the plate that Callie and Santa made together) and Callie's Christmas letter to Santa :)

After the story, Callie and I were looking under the Christmas tree - it was bare!  I explained that tonight Santa was going to come while she was sleeping and we'd have to check under the tree when she woke up!

Then we walked over to my mom's Nativity Scene, and I explained to Callie the REAL meaning behind Christmas.  We talked about Baby Jesus in a manger and the reason people give gifts at Christmas.  We said our Christmas prayers, and she was off to dream land :)

Sunday, December 25 (CHRISTMAS)

Christmas # 4
Christmas morning!  It was about 9:00 AM, and it was time to get Callie out of bed :)  We got something to drink, a little bite to eat, and headed downstairs to check under the tree (typically the eating part is AFTER gifts; however, now that nobody is up at the crack of dawn, we eat before!)

Callie immediately went to the presents - her eyes open wide and she was ready to open!  Sure, why not pick one present and begin to open it :)  It doesn't matter that it was Grampa's present!!  Oh yes - all these gifts were for 5 people...I'm not kidding when I talk about how magical it is on Christmas morning!  My mom and dad COMPLETELY spoil each other!  I think they are in competition to see who can buy each other the most gifts!

Reading the letter that Santa wrote back to Callie!  Oh my goodness, his milk was gone and so were the cookies :)

McRae Family Christmas 2011 - 2nd annual "same Christmas pants"!  Josh LOVES this tradition :)  They are the same pair as last year, but that's only because I had left over fabric :)  I already bought the fabric for next year, so all 5 of us will have matching PJ's :)

Callie was beside herself thrilled that Santa brought Callie a new stocking this year - ELMO :) A singing ELMO :)  Full of goodies :)

One of the things in her stocking was a little coloring book with crayons!  The next 10 minutes were spent coloring in her book!  Looks like Grampa had to stop opening his gifts so he could color with Callie :)

Another mini break to eat Gramma's breakfast :)  Caramel rolls - the traditional Christmas morning breakfast :)

OH MY GOODNESS!!  Santa brought Callie her Cookie Monster :)  She was so excited!  She kept feeding Cookie his cookies and laughing really hard :)  Perfection :)  Good job Santa!

The rest of our morning was spent opening Christmas gifts, playing, trying to convince Callie that whatever it is she wanted (cheese, milk, etc...) that maybe it was inside one of the packages...this only lasted a few times :)

Soon we got ready and headed to my Gma & Gpa Schwartz's house :)

Christmas # 5
My Uncle Don & Uncle Bill are two crazy brothers...or is it that they were raised by my crazy Grandma...who hangs air fresheners from chickens :)

It was fun to spend more time with two of my three sisters (Heather & Colleen)...

Oh the memories of this picture :)  I haven't laughed THAT hard in a really long time :)

Schwartz Family Photo 2011 - we are missing: Heidi, Bruce, Tyler, Trey & Trygg, Herold, Michele (she surprised us all later!), Donnie (he was at the Packer game), Bill & his fiance Saresse, Steve & his girlfriend Rachel.

 Yup - I think you can tell where I get my craziness family!!

The tradition on Christmas day is that my Grandpa sits in his chair by the tree, wearing his Christmas hat, reading off each label and having his helpers deliver the gifts.  Here Callie was thanking Gma for the giraffe they gave her!

We were all sitting around, listening to Grandpa call out names for gifts, and low and behold, cousin Michele walked down the stairs :)  What a fun surprise!  She lives in Milwaukee, WI, so I was SHOCKED to see her there :)  I love this picture of her and Callie (even though she'd kill me if she knew I posted this), but they are both sneaking chips - Callie WAY more than she needed, but hey, it's Christmas so I let her :)

Dessert on Christmas evening isn't anything fancy.  Ice cream and Christmas cookies/bars that my Gma makes.  Callie is currently OBSESSED with Elmo - and watching him on youtube.  Remember earlier when I said that my dad adores Callie - yeah, she has suckered him into playing Elmo videos on his phone too (and downloading apps on his phone that are just for Callie!!)  So here Callie, Claire and my dad sit and watch Elmo while my dad plays the trumpet?  Saxophone?

After dessert, Josh and I packed everything up, said our goodbyes and I love you's and headed to our next destination...

Christmas # 6
Eden Prairie to Edina was a 10 minute drive, so that was by far the shortest drive of our weekend!  We next went to Josh's dad's house!  When we arrived, we sat around and relaxed for a bit, chit chatted, and watched Callie open a couple gifts!  Not because Callie saw them and had to rip into them, but because Grandpa Don & Sharon were too excited :)

We also had a light meal - hey, why not eat again :)  Delicious turkey and potatoes.  So far, we have not had a repeat meal!!!

Callie and daddy had a fun time building a tower together out of Grandpa's legos!

Callie called Sharon over to the fireplace to sit next to her.  They played with her baby and Callie showed Sharon her new Cookie Monster :)

Now this picture turned out GREAT!  Callie soon called over Grandpa to come join her and Sharon!  Here's a super cute picture of Grandpa Don, Callie & Sharon posing for a super cute baby!  Oh yeah, lets not forget baby :)  I love how Sharon turned baby around for the picture :)  I also LOVE Callie's cute smile :)

Callie went to bed and the four of us watched a movie together-it was nice to relax!!!

Monday, December 26

We woke up this morning to a delicious smell of Grandpa in the kitchen cooking bacon and his famous french toast!  We all sat down for a delicious breakfast together and prepared to head out for an afternoon of fun :)

We headed to the Mall of America - which was a zoo in itself - to go to Underwater World :)  They opened some new exhibits since the last time we were there, so it was really fun to see them :)

Callie really enjoyed looking at all the different fish!  

Sharon and Callie spent a lot of time observing different fish and talking about what they saw!  We tried to get Callie to go to Grandpa, but she preferred Sharon - which is okay, because sometimes that happens.  When there's a lot of people around she's more shy -which is normal!

Callie and I were checking out some colorful fish!  I love her little dress and hair - man she's a cutie...

Auntie Kayla came with us too - and Callie was so excited to spend time with her :)  They enjoyed looking at all of the jellyfish together!  Did you know that 95% of a jellyfish is WATER!  That's CRAZY!

Observing the fishes...I wonder what her mind was thinking!  Taking it all in I'm sure :)

Callie and daddy checking out more fish in the "tunnel of fish!"  I love that there is a shark swimming over head!  Every time a large shark swam above us, she would watch it until it looked like her head was going to fall off :)  She loved this.  How fun would this be to have in your HOUSE!  And not have to take care of it :)

Family photo op with the fish :)

She didn't want to stop and pose for a picture...instead she wanted to do the following (picture below this one...)

Oh yes, laying on the rocks is so much more easy to REALLY watch the fish :)  What a silly goose...

Walking out of the exhibit - hand in hand with her favorite man ... her Daddy!  (what a tourist, walking around with the camera bag draped across his shoulders)!  Makes me so proud :)

This picture turned out cute :)  Auntie Kayla and her girl :)

We walked through the gift shop and enjoyed trying on all their different hats :)  Who do you think wore it better...Callie

 Or Daddy???

Kayla, Callie & Mommy having fun with hats :)

I love her :)  I took off my hat and she wanted it on her I put it on and she turned to daddy for a picture :)  

Everyone took off and headed to Auntie Kayla's house for our final Christmas, but before we could go, mommy had to satisfy her craving and have an Auntie Annie's Pretzel and Icee :)  Boy was it DELICIOUS!

Christmas # 7
When we arrived at Auntie Kayla's house, we laid Callie down for a nap - luckily she actually took one :)  It took her awhile to fall asleep, but that's okay - she needed it!

We played a wicked fun game, Last Word...turns out I LOVE it and am really good at it...I won :)  This is a game I will be purchasing sometime :) :)

After Callie's nap, Auntie Kayla wanted her to open her present from her and Uncle Mike!  Callie started to open it...

Decided to LAY on it to get the rest of the wrapping paper off...

And finally got to it :)  A kitty keyboard - HECK YES!  We have been looking at these for quite awhile...perfect gift :)

Kayla made a delicious Manicotti dinner - I've tried Manicotti, but I always screw it up!  Regardless, hers was DELICIOUS :)  After dinner, Kayla and Callie snuck away into the kitchen to make the dessert!  What a good aunt - letting her niece get in on the action :)  Thank you Kayla!

Callie knows her way around the kitchen...she helps mom quite often when I'm cooking, so this was PERFECT for her :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Trifle!  Dunk chocolate chip cookies in milk, lay in trifle bow, top with cool whip, then repeat until filled :)  SO GOOD!

After all the hard work, it was time to eat it :)  She LOVED it :)

Oh yes, that is one big bite for one cute little girl, but who cares...why not :)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture - she's having a conversation with Auntie Kayla - probably about their dessert and how good it was :)

After dessert, it was time for the McRae's to head HOME!  4 days, but it was time to go home - we packed in A LOT!  Our car was loaded and stuffed full!  Callie had several new toys to play with in the back seat, and we were off!

When we got home, Josh and I were very quick to unpack, put things away and get ready for bed.  I was in the bathroom putting away my things and Callie was SO excited to run in there and see what I was doing that she ran, tripped and NAILED her head on the doorway trim.  Poor girl had an immediate goose egg on her forehead.  Immediately it was black and blue.  We tried to put ice on it, but she HATES that - so we gave her  lots of TLC instead.  Check this thing out...

Such a sad face :(  Such a big bump :(

We hope you enjoyed hearing about our Christmas weekend!  We hope everyone had an amazing holiday and will continue to be blessed with Family and Friends :)