Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of 2017

2017 was an interesting year. In our part of the world, it was a pretty big and interesting year for us. We started 2017 sick with the stomach flu and ending it with upper respiratory infections for the family. Luckily everything in between was pretty great. We were able to do everything we love and more. 

The big highlights:

  • We bought a new house
  • We went to Chicago twice
  • We explored Big Sky, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, and the Black Hills, SD
  • Elizabeth started Kindergarten and dance
  • The boys started piano lessons, chess club, and anything else they could sign up for through school
  • I joined the Board of Directors of the Des Moines Children's Museum
  • Hubs and I saw U2 in Indianapolis

The small highlights that make life fun:

  • We went roller skating, celebrated birthdays of friends, relatives, and ourselves, we went hiking, we went shopping (because growing kids), we made changes to make our life more environmentally friendly, all of the mini's friends were back for the summer (which meant daycare was hoppin' and I was busy), there were more nights out and time with friends, we saw the solar eclipse, we went to movies, plays, and shows, we fought about what projects to do first in the new house, we argued about household chores, we yelled at the minis to get into bed 365 times, and most importantly, we laughed about it all.

All year long I made note of podcasts I wanted to listen to, movies and TV shows I wanted to watch, books I wanted to read, etc. Of course, those are things that get put on my back burner because, life. The past week has been what I call a couch week. The minis have been sick, then I got sick. Therefore LOTS of movies were watched. In fact, all of the movies that were on my list were watched. One of the books was read. Had I not been sick, I wouldn't have slowed down enough to watch those movies or cuddle on the couch with my fellow sickies. I feel complete that the universe gave me the gift of time (in her own funny way) to do these things I put on my back burner.

Some 2017 highlights:

 So many chocolate cakes. Let's not forget the four layer chocolate chocolate fudge cake I made for my father-in-law's birthday. The top wouldn't fit on the carrier, which I failed to think about when I decided to do a fourth layer because three just wasn't good enough for me. Also, I insisted on sparklers on the cake. Why? Because why not.

 We bought a house (it just so happened to be near my birthday/our anniversary). It's going to be tough to top that "gift." Let's take a minute to remember when I couldn't live with our wall paper (we had maybe been in the house for a week) and I decided to peel it off because it peeled off easily. My husband was less that thrilled by my quick fifteen minute "project." I told him, "don't worry. That top layer was so easy that I bet that bottom layer will come right off. I'll get it done." So, um, it didn't. It doesn't. It is stuck on there for life. I'm fairly certain that wallpaper was original to the house in 1950 and is not coming off. No worries though because I told my husband I'd take care of and I will. I'm just going to take down the walls and put up all new dry wall. So if anybody would like to help with that in 2018, it'd help me win that 2017 argument with my husband.
 There were plenty of tantrums about absolutely nothing. We're really good at those in this house.

 We fit in hikes, but only a handful of Mom and Mini's Days. 
 We wrote our purchase agreement for the house and I bought a new playset on the same day. My husband informs me most people do not do this, but I'm certain it's typical new home purchase stuff.
 We tried plenty of new restaurants throughout the year. Of course, the second half of the year I turned vegetarian/vegan so our restaurant options are a bit slimmer now, but we still find a lot of places to eat that are wonderful.
 The daycare room got a makeover with all five of us helping. We now have paint splatters on our tile and a hilarious Instagram video of the adventure.
 A visit to Chicago in May for Mother's Day and then back again in October because the minis LOVE the Windy City.

 This couch and living room has seen lots of cuddles.
 Elizabeth's last day of preschool. I took that one HARD.
 So many ice cream visits to our favorite place, Snookie's. We're absolutely counting down the days until next spring when it reopens for the season.
 These three still really love each other. Most days at least.
 So, 2017 might just be the year I threw my hands up and said, screw it! and took the easy way out. The washer broke (again) and needed a new part. Hubs was confident he could fix it, I said screw it, donated the old washer and just bought a new one so I wouldn't have to deal with any other issues.

Our awesomely educational summer vacation: the Corn Palace, Badlands, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Big Sky, MT, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Cody, WY, and so many beautiful scenic routes taken.

 Let's laugh about our time in Yellowstone for SUMMER VACATION. It was thirty degrees our two full days there (nicer our other two half days), it rained, snowed 8 inches, and roads were closed. A vacation we'll never forget for sure!
 Our backyard was well broken in this summer.
 We set off our own fireworks on the Fourth of July.
 My first 80/35. I'm ready for more music festivals.
 Mini golfing with the minis was is nearly everything else we do with them.
 We put our passes to the Zoo, Living History Farms, and the Science Center of Iowa.
 By far the most eventful day of summer was the day we had our tree cut down and Harrison stepped on a newly born opossum in the backyard. Really fun stuff I got to deal with that day.
 The minis decided they were Starbucks lovers too. My $4 coffee habit just raised to a $20+ habit because I can no longer go without getting them something too.
 First day of school: 4th grade, 2nd grand, and Kindergarten. Hubs and I walked them up the sidewalk to school with every intention of turning back....but I just kept on walking right up to the school door. I hadn't showered, still in my pajamas, and teeth unbrushed. I of course ran into every person I knew that morning.
 Up past bedtime for a special late night walk across the High Trestle Trail Bridge.
 A whirlwind 36 hours: 14 hours in the car, 1 tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1 on-foot tour of downtown Indy, and an epic U2 concert. 

 Someone has gotten really into fashion and accessories, and make up.
 The exhibit at the Art Center was one of our favorite things to see and crawl through all year!

 We had Flash, Kylo Ren, and Poppy for our many Halloween festivities.
 The adventure that lies within opening a Children's Museum in Des Moines has been amazing, fun, and hard work. It's been a busy four months and I can't wait to see what progress we make in the next year.
The minis absolutely love their extracurricular activities. While they've added a bit more chaos to our already busy week nights, they have learned and grown so much from each activity.

Christmas Weekend

Our Christmas weekend was wonderful, despite sick minis. We were able to run our last minute errands, spend time with family, fit in three Christmases (the fourth we didn't get to because of fevers and coughs), and all around enjoy every minute of our four day weekend.

This is a pretty accurate depiction of Christmas break thus far: lounging on the couch watching movies (Christmas and the Classics have been our themes), getting up long enough to play a bit, then back to the couch for another movie. Some of the movies we've enjoyed over break (so far): The Sound of Music, Christmas In Connecticut, Breakfast At Tiffany's, It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Elf, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Born In China. While I don't typically condone TV viewing like this, I at least make sure they're watching must see movies. Plus, most of the kids have been or are still sick, so there's been a lot of laying around.

Of course, everyone was feeling good to start out our four day Christmas weekend. So naturally, we began with drinks and dinner at El Rodeo. Cheers to the holiday season! 

We experienced some Christmas magic at dinner. When we asked for our check, we saw that it was taking a while. Our waiter returned and informed us that a couple of ladies in a large holiday party had spotted us having dinner and paid for our entire meal! As a family of five, that bill was not cheap. We were absolutely shocked and disappointed they had already left so we couldn't thank them. Instead, Hubs walked through the restaurant, picked out a family eating dinner who had young children with them and paid for their meal. I hope they were as shocked as we were and paid it forward.

We slept in a bit Saturday morning after a late night of shopping and wrapping gifts. Then we were back out for our last few errands of the Christmas season. We were all Christmas song-ed out, so we switched it up. I had a middle school flashback when this song came on. I was more pleased than I should have been that I remembered every single word.

Tasty Taco's for lunch with a show, as the middle and youngest mini demonstrated "how parents kiss."

Saturday evening was our first Christmas at my parent's house. 

Tie boys.

The youngest mini kept us entertained with her piano playing and singing.

 We promptly hung my new artwork on our dining room wall.

Sunday morning started with a sick mini, playing, and me at the Children's Museum. It was supposed to be a family volunteer day, but the sick mini threw us all off. Later in the day we had Christmas at my Aunt's house.

 Coffee to keep me going. I was shocked by how slow the mall was on Christmas Eve! I truly believed it was going to be packed. Instead the mall was dead!

 She's decided she loves my Vega protein bars and stole/ate them all.

The cat got a check up from the two littlest minis. He was a bit grumpy about the whole thing, but let them. Silly cat.

This little one was soooooo excited for Christmas festivities. She was a bit crazy during the family gathering.

The oldest lounged and rested. 

 My Aunt got the kids these sticky toys that were the hit of the night!

The little man.

We did our annual looking at Christmas lights drive after our family Christmas, then set out Santa's cookies and the reindeer's carrots (along with hot chocolate because it was my year to eat the Santa treats. For the record, I did not eat all of those cookies myself). The kids fell into bed with combined excitement and exhaustion. Then Hubs and I and friends of our's got to work wrapping presents, having drinks, and catching up. This has become our Christmas Eve tradition (read about it here) and I couldn't love it more.

 You've been using children's medicine cups wrong. Perfect shot glass I tell ya.

Santa presents in the front, unwrapped. This year mom and dad worked with Santa on their big gift for this year.

We were shopping at MHM Friday evening when the youngest stopped dead in her tracks outside of the store Justice. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, "did you know this is a store JUST FOR GIRLS?? It's just a me store." She then stared into the window. I asked if she wanted to go in. As soon as the words left my mouth, she ran into the store and started squealing. "Look at this! And this! Oh mom! Look!" she exclaimed as she ran from one glittery, sequined thing to the next. Of course she instantly spotted this pink poop pillow. I had to drag her out of the store so the boys could buy it for her for Christmas.

Harrison was shocked to open his Fingerlings playset.

One of the coolest stocking stuffers were these Elf Funko Pops. I laughed when Elizabeth saw this and said "wow! We have a Jess!" Yes, my five and a half year old just referenced New Girl.

The boys got Olaf and Chewbacca onesies! They loved them!

Two tired parents running on about four hours of sleep. It should be of no surprise that I wound up taking two naps Christmas Day. 

In other girly news, Elizabeth got REAL make up for Christmas. The girl is in glittery eye shadow and red lipstick heaven.

Max got a record player and his favorite Beatles record. I enjoyed his present just as much as he did.

A good majority of the day was spent putting new Lego sets together.

 Christmas breakfast: Butterbraid, pomegranate seeds, and tea.

 On the couch with the new blanket, a book, and a snuggly cat.

 The aftermath. 

 Christmas dinner: lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.

After dinner Grandma and Grandpa Sheaffer came over with more presents and a quick visit.

Monday overnight was rough: the oldest hardly slept due to his cough and the youngest came down with the stomach flu. We were supposed to have our fourth Christmas that evening at my grandparent's house, but instead had a day with naps, Tylenol, Kleenex's, and a few tears. 

I had a few hours with the middle mini when the other two went to bed at 5 p.m. He told me he liked it when it was like he was an only child!

This was ALL recycling!

Naturally, ending our weekend/starting the week on the couch with sick kids.

After reviewing past Christmases, it seems our theme is to get sick for Christmas and all of Christmas break. One of these years we won't be sick and miss Christmases. However, despite the illness, we did have a fantastic Christmas 2017!