The Polar Express & Christmas Lights

Last week as part of our Advent Activities we watch The Polar Express together as a family. It’s probably one of my favorite Christmas movies, and both boys enjoy it every year.

So, this week we thought it would be fun to get the boys in their pajamas, load up the car stocked with popcorn and hot chocolate, check out some Christmas lights.

thumb_IMG_9810_1024We got all dressed up right down to fuzzy slippers for both boys, conductor hat for Daddy, and Santa hat for Mommy. Got our tickets to ride The Polar Express and hit the road to pick up other passengers – Uncle Ray Ray, Aunt Heather, Jackson, and Emmy. We all piled into the suburban and headed to Newport News.

It was a fun night and a wonderful memory maker. Sam said it was a very fun express, and then he promptly fell asleep. A big night for everyone and very fun pretending we were on a train and recreating portions of the movie from the perspective of our four and two year old!

First Annual Gingerbread House Party

As part of Advent each year, we always make gingerbread houses together. I even threw a Gingerbread House Party for several two and three year olds when Sam was that age. It was so much fun. We never forgot it!

This year we’re in Virginia with family so I thought it would be fun to host a family gingerbread house party! We set the date and told everyone to bring 3 bags of candy per family. We provided spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and the other two families covered salad and bread.

After dinner we got to work on our gingerbread houses. The only rule was that everyone had to make one – even Big Papa! Mark and I assembled the houses beforehand for each person so there were no, “my house won’t stay together” moments. Plus this made it easier for Timmy and Sam since they are much younger, allowing Mommy and Daddy to participate too. I also made sure there were enough icing bags for each person to have, and we all just passed around the colors.

If you want to throw a party, or just make gingerbread houses without paying a fortune, check out this post.

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First everyone filled up mini-muffin papers with all the various candies. I’ve found this easier than sitting the candy on the table and passing it around. Eventually, we pull the bowls over, but mini-muffin papers are perfect!candy cane sensory fun-5 candy cane sensory fun-6 candy cane sensory fun-7

This boy has been asking to make gingerbread houses since December 1st. I think the countdown to today has been just as exciting for him as Christmas Day!candy cane sensory fun-8 candy cane sensory fun-9

Timmy’s house stayed mostly bare. It took him quite a while to get in on the decorating. He was perfectly content eating all his candy. candy cane sensory fun-11

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He finally asked me to help him put a candy cane on top. He really wanted it to stand up straight, but we couldn’t get to stay. candy cane sensory fun-15

The works of Uncle Ray Ray in the front. candy cane sensory fun-17

Timmy’s is on the left. Mark’s is on the right. candy cane sensory fun-18

Daddy’s meticulous work. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I think this might be Grammy’s. I’m already starting to forget which was which! They were all really good. candy cane sensory fun-21

Emmy’s house. candy cane sensory fun-22

Sam’s very, very meticulous work. He didn’t ask for help a single time. He knew what he was doing and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. I think it was all he expected it to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Timmy’s finished work!candy cane sensory fun-2

A better look at Daddy’s house.candy cane sensory fun-3

This one is mine. Merry Christmas!

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When we were all finished, everyone voted for their favorite gingerbread house. The only rule was that you couldn’t vote for your own. Once the count came in, we had a four way tie. So we all voted again on those four houses.

It was a tight race, but Jackson pulled away the winner and he walked with $20. He’s the one who really thought he’d lose. He said when he found out we’d all be voting at the end, “Mine always turn out horrible.” I’m always up for an underdog win. ๐Ÿ™‚

candy cane sensory fun-19I think it was the snow that won it for him!

I really had no idea what to expect when we started, but what a great time we had! I can’t wait for the second annual gingerbread house party!

Family Home Movie Night

The boys love watching videos from the past. I did too as a kid. I remember my parents pulling out the projector and reels of film for silent family movie night. I remember watching my little toddling legs learning to walk, eating my first foods, and countless other things while the fan of the projector blew my hair hot.

thumb_DSC_0606_1024Times have changed, but the thrill of seeing yourself doing things you don’t remember hasn’t. Timmy was especially enthralled and could not believe the little baby on the screen was actually him!

thumb_DSC_0608_1024I see many nights of watching our past roll before us in our future. ๐Ÿ™‚

Trimming the Tree

We trimmed our tree and put out several of our Christmas decorations today. We decided to get a fake tree this year after many years of real ones. We love it!


I am pretty sure Timmy never wears clothes when I plan to take pictures of “memory making” moments. He was dressed the same last year too. This year we had to keep telling him that the ornaments weren’t balls. thumb_DSC_0538_1024

Sam knew what he was doing. He looks so big!thumb_DSC_0540_1024

Cutie patooty!thumb_DSC_0542_1024

Timmy didn’t believe us about the no ball thing. Sad moment…thumb_DSC_0550_1024 thumb_IMG_9665_1024 thumb_IMG_9666_1024

I love having a fireplace, even though we don’t use it for a fire. haha!thumb_IMG_9668_1024What a peaceful sight!

Homemade Halloween

One of my favorite things about where we live is the town events. Halloween is one of my favorites. It’s always fun with family because there is a lot of thought that goes into the costumes.

This year I am pregnant and in the throws of first trimester, so coming up with a costume idea was hard. I put it off and put it off as I listened to Sam rattle off ideas. We talked about David and Goliath, dressing up as S’mores, and countless other things. But Sam eventually settled on a rocket ship. When I asked him what Timmy would be, he said, “Moon and stars, of course.” Oh, well, duh then.

I tried to sway him in another direction. How was I going to manage two homemade costumes when I couldn’t even get off the couch? But it was the night before Halloween when all through the house the children were bathing, and my time was running out. I asked him again, and he said, “Rocket ship, Mama.” I looked at Mark and said, “We’re going to make this happen.”

So we set to work when the kids should have been in bed and built the bones of the costume. We finished it the next day after a harried trip to Wal-Mart for a few supplies to make Timmy’s, and in the end, I’m glad we did. It turned out cute and the boys were excited!


The helmet for Sam’s costume made it. Thanks, Daddy! thumb_DSC_0204_1024

Look at those happy cuties!thumb_DSC_0210_1024 thumb_DSC_0216_1024 thumb_DSC_0220_1024

We also made a cute hand print pumpkin. thumb_DSC_0245_1024

We joined the cousins for some trick or treating through town. The donut and slurpee was amazing too!thumb_IMG_9529_1024 thumb_IMG_9530_1024

That light was a hit! Of course some people thought he was a flashlight, but who cares. ๐Ÿ˜‰thumb_IMG_9535_1024

A very happy moon and stars!

What a fun night! Love this tradition.

Thanksgiving 2014

We spent Thanksgiving in Steamboat again. It’s just too much to try to fly out this time of year, and the thought of alternating families just sounds awful. Even though we miss family on this special holiday, we’ve managed to make it fun and have found that we (Mark and I) really enjoy preparing the feast together!

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We Thought We Were Headed Home

IMG_2098After our change of plans and long stay in Tennessee due to Timmy’s sickness, we thought we needed to call it quits. We climbed in the car, loaded all of our gear, and put away the maps. We pointed the car west and made it so far as the interstate, but we took the first exit and had a family meeting. IMG_2102What are we doing? Why are we heading home? Is this really where the road ends? We asked ourselves if we really wanted to give up. To cut our plans short by two weeks. We asked ourselves if we would regret not finishing the trip because things got hard. Or will we lick our wounds here and now and choose to trust God for another adventure? Will we play it safe? Or will we trust Him to provide our daily bread? We looked at our baby whose mouth was healing and whose smiles and giggles had returned. We asked Sam what he wanted to do and he said, “I want to see more states.” Mom and Dad agreed. So we turned the car around and took the first exit south. IMG_2104We drove to Memphis, TN forย  a quick lunch stop before heading on to Mississippi. IMG_2107 IMG_2116We ate some of the best bbq around and hit the road again, but this time with an anticipation and hope in the generous love of God.

Family Time in Indiana

IMG_1624We spent a couple of nights in Portage, IN with the McGehees. Their hospitality was phenomenal.

We went to a pumpkin and apple farm to experience a little bit of fall. They had a petting zoo where you could pet the farm animals and feed them right out of your hand. The boys were in heaven. I kept Timmy on my chest in the Boba since he didnโ€™t seem to feel well.


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We played for hours and then took a wagon ride to the apple orchard. We walked the rows and rows of apples choosing which apples we would take home. Sam had never been apple picking so it was fun to watch him as he happily chose apples to dump into the bag I carried for him.

IMG_1756 IMG_1755The last night in Portage my childhood babysitter came over to meet the children and say hello. She brought her middle child with her Rachel, and boy was this a treat. Stacey hasnโ€™t changed a bit! It was a wonderful visit. Iโ€™m so grateful it worked out.

IMG_1757What a great time we had. So grateful for these people!

IMG_1634 IMG_1758 IMG_1626Want to see all of our travels during our October road trip? See this post.