Oh how I love routines.

Winter is here in Chicago.  A strange winter, but here anyways.

We have had many many days of sunshine and freezing cold the last few weeks.  Before that was rain for days and then before that there was snow.  I think the city is not sure what season it is.  And I'm certain the birds are confused.

But, I have settled into a very comforting routine.

The day starts with a 6AM alarm.  This is rough.  I am not a morning person.  But, I know that the kids will be up at 7 and I desperately need to be awake before then.  So, I get up, nudge Matt and we head out to the family room to workout.  We are doing Chalean Extreme again this winter thanks to the recommendation last year from the amazing Joline Atkins (Beachbody Coach Extraordinaire).  We also are alternating in a couple days of GymBox which streams right through our TV.

After a 30 minute workout, Matt heads to the shower while I clean up the dishes from the night before and get the kid's lunches made.  Homemade breakfasts are a rarity at the moment and Anna thinks this is outrageous.  Every morning she comes to the kitchen with her hopes high that the noises of dishes are actually pancakes being made, but alas, they are generally not. I could digress into the long term consequences of choosing certain things for your firstborn but, I will just say - feed them sugary cereal and I think they won't want it when they are older.  I fed mine only healthy foods and now she only wants sugary junk food for breakfast.

In order for Claire to get from her 7AM wakeup to a 7:30 departure to school, she has been sleeping in her clothes.  Every night she picks out her outfit for the next day and puts it on.  I'm thankful for less laundry but not sure if this is an okay thing to do...  Our culture says - pajamas to bed and fresh clothes in the morning.  Of course it also says, baths every day and our kids certainly aren't following that "rule".

Ah yes - back to my routine.  The girls head out to walk to school with Dad, I head to the shower and Katherine snuggles up with her blankie on the couch.  Around 8:30, I head with Katherine to the bus stop and chit chat a bit with the neighbors (we live on the best block).  I'm back home by 8:45 and ready to tidy things up a bit, perhaps make some coffee and settle into work on Katherine's bed.  Yep, the bottom bunk is mine for the morning.  Wondering why?  The girls bunk beds are situated right next to their large double window and the sun streams in all morning long.  It is pure bliss to sit in the direct sunlight.  Plus, our older windows don't filter away the heat and it is just so warm - like a beach.  The kitty has also taken to snuggling up with me and my laptop.  Ah, peace, warmth and I can even hear the birds.  Cue the sappy music.

I'm making it through winter.  I'm not super happy or super sad. And I'll take that as a blessing.

P.S. - I couldn't make it one day, hour or minute without my husband, Matt.  And yes, his "friend" managed to fit in our car for the drive home.

Redefining White Elephant Gift Exchanges.


Break the silence already! How was Christmas?

What is it about writing that scares me silly?  I just can't start to write something without stressing out.  Will it be funny?  Will I be witty?  Will anyone even read it and do I care?

So - since Facebook is just a tad bit limiting, I feel I should do a Christmas summary here.

For those of you who stay at home for Christmas, you have no idea what our holidays are like.  For those of you who visit at least 4 different homes to celebrate Christmas, you are close to understanding.

We do this mainly because we just love our family. We feel both blessed and cursed that they all live so close together.  While it means that we can see everyone, it means that we need to see everyone!  We try to spend as much time as possible while still having a bit of time just to ourselves.  This year we spent 4 days driving (2 each way) and then 9 days in Colorado.  This time was split somewhat between Denver and Colorado Springs.  

It was a lovely visit.  The snow was beautiful and the family was so gracious.  We also enjoyed getting to see all the toddlers and babies that have shown up in the family over the last 2 years.  Now that our kids are past those years we feel we can really enjoy seeing our siblings with their little ones.  I can only imagine how the Grandparents handled having kids ages 2 to 11 to entertain and plan for!  And the noise...  I think we'll be bringing earplugs for all next year.

The kids traveled amazingly well on the road and we are prepping for a big, super fun, fight off the SAD, trip coming up in February!  Stay tuned...

Now - the pictures!

Making cookies at home.

Christmas at home!

Each night in Denver a different girl was in charge of setting the table.  This was a highlight of the trip for them and they loved it!

Crazy tacos in Denver.  (with Claire's table setting.)

Anna's table setting.

Making the noodles...

Chatting with Dad.

Let's make cake pops!

Christmas morning.

Stocking time!

Katherine's table setting.

Awesome.  Christmas in the Springs.

Grandma makes beautiful things.

Katherine's favorite face!  And her favorite present.

Our family rocks.  And cousins are a gift from God.