Christmas in Chicago!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This year, we're spending the week of Christmas at Mom & Curt's! As always, the schedule is packed with fun and family! :) We left Morristown on Thursday morning, with threat of a snow storm bogging down the end of our drive, but by the time we arrived in Chicago, it was free and clear! :) YAY!

Friday - Chicago Botanical Gartens with Mom & Curt!

If you haven't had a chance to visit the Botanical Gardens, it was a fun outing.

We spent the morning with the pups at the park, played at home in the afternoon, and were surprised when Devin & Katie showed up a day early! THEN we got to start opening presents! Phase 1 of present opening was stockings and sibling gifts. SO FUN! Stocking time at our house is a blast. Apparently, it's not completely normal for all of the gifts in the stocking to be wrapped. Well, ours are. When we were kids, we used to get out our stockings on Christmas Eve and try to guess each individually wrapped item. We were told if we could guess everything, we could open ALL of our presents a day early! Of course, there was always one weird item we just would never guess. Over the years, the tradition has held - we spend time guessing every item in the stocking, and there are ALWAYS items we would never dream of guessing. :)

The whole clan piled up and headed off to Grandma & Grandpa's house! Of course, there was lots of yummy food and the whole family was there. Eli played the whole time with Olivia, which was adorable, and Mom & Curt got to catch up with family they hadn't seen in a while. We even had phone conversations on speaker with some of the fam that couldn't make it. Good times, good times! ;) 

When we got home, we went to Phase 2 of presents: Grown Up Presents! Once we put the little ones to bed, the grown ups got to have present opening time. Of course, we were all spoiled. Denise's favorites: North Face tri-climate, bright yellow tea kettle, and my HUGE new crock pot! Brian's favorites: North face jacket, my Dremel set, and my basketball!

Since the whole family is rarely ever together, we figure Christmas is a good time to get some family photos done! It's a lot of fun to get out together and goof off... except the part where it's FUH-REEZING cold in Chicago in December. We were super grateful the wind wasn't bad. And we were super impressed that Eli & Avaya stuck it out as long as they did! We spent about an hour and a half outside in the frigid cold (don't worry - the kids took breaks in the heated car) and we came up with these!

The Whole Fam... casually sitting on a random bench in the woods.. having a conversation. It's what we do...

I'm pretty sure this was Eli's favorite part of the whole day.

Devin & Our Gorgeous Sister, Katie.

Avaya @ 9 months - Happy Go Lucky!

I never wanted sisters - til I got these! Love them SO MUCH!!! [L-R: Brittany, Katie, Denise]

L-R: Katie & Devin, Curt & Mom (Diane), Denise & Brian, and DJ & Brittany
That's icy snow on the ground right there - first and last "snow" we've seen all year. 
This was the end of our super long, freezing cold shoot. Our hands were numb and our boots were soaked through. And the kids were NOT HAPPY. In this picture we're pretending there are not two screaming kids in the background. Don't judge.

Bon Voyage Bucket List: Biltmore

Saturday, December 1, 2012

6. Biltmore 

Today we completed #6 of our Bon Voyage bucket listBiltmore is the largest privately owned house in America. Visiting this phenomenal home was so much fun! We are so grateful mom and curt were able to come join us for this day trip!
In the Conservatory

Mom & Curt, in the Conservatory

Loving the Pink Flamingos in the conservatory!

In front of the Conservatory. Can you imagine just having this in your back yard? As part of your garden? Craaaazy.

On the back porch... In front of the beautiful North Carolina scenery

Biltmore front yard

Walkway to the back porch

Denise asked Santa for a pony for Christmas. Brian asked Santa that Denise not get a pony. Lame.

Mom & Denise in the front yard.

Visiting Eli & Avaya!

Monday, November 5, 2012

This weekend we took a special trip to STL JUST to get a chance to spend time with our precious niece & nephew! We're bummed we don't live closer already and want to make sure the kids know who we are. As soon as Eli saw us he said, "where Nana Papa?" Haha. The good new is: at least he associates us with Nana & Papa! We spent the weekend mostly relaxing and playing! Eli FINALLY says our names (By-an and Nee) and Avaya is just plain happy-go-lucky. It was soo soo much fun!
Eli loves Uncle B :)

Fun at the Mall!

Sweet Avaya face!

Balloon from the mall: $1
Hours of entertainment: Priceless

Aunt Neicy sharing her whipped cream. That's true love. 
Eli loves books!
Daddy's little girl
Trying to share with Papa over FaceTime 

Fall in East Tennessee!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall is THE prettiest season in East Tennessee, hands down. This one has been particularly beautiful and long-lasting.

Our Road

Choppin Trees in the back yard

Russ & Josh playing lumberjack

This was definitely more fun than it was a chore
Date night :) 

Denise loves the baby cows in the fall!!
That's always entertaining

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.   
- Elizabeth Lawrence quotes  
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