Three Christmases | Part One | Denise's Family Christmas

Monday, December 18, 2017

In our family, we usually have at least three Christmases. I wouldn't have it any other way! I love the extended Christmas season with lots of excuses for drowning out the rest of the world and bunkering down with all of our favorite people.

This year had the potential to be a hot mess; the crazy, exhausting, stressful season that so many people deal with every year. However, we decided in advance that this year, we're going to ENJOY the Christmas season. I decided I wasn't going to let anything stress me out, including MOVING four. days. before our first Christmas weekend began.

Brian and I spent the first week of December simultaneously packing our house and preparing for the company Christmas party. On December 7, UPACK picked up our pods. On December 8, we had a fabulous Christmas party with all of the employees. That night, we finished packing up and we headed out bright and early December 9. That evening we pawned our kids and pups off with the Hollingsworths in Ghent, KY, then headed to Dry Ridge to celebrate Alyssa's wedding! On Sunday, December 10 we completed the final leg of the journey and returned to our home in St. Charles.

We spent Monday through Wednesday simultaneously unloading pods (with the help of our awesome family) and shopping and decorating for Christmas. My trees were a top priority. By the time Mom & Curt arrived on Thursday evening, we had successfully ordered Christmas gifts, decorated like woah, and hid all of the unpacked boxes in the garage. We were ready!

It was so so good to be home for Christmas this year!! Mom & Curt came down for the weekend. Devin, Katie, and Jack couldn't make it, so we weren't quite complete, but we're counting on all being together next year!

It was a whirlwind weekend! Friday, mom and I spent the day shopping for last minute gifts, groceries for the weekend, and a cute bonus: matching jammies for all of the adults! Bahahaa! As soon as the kids were out of school, the festivities began!

Friday night we bundled up and hauled out to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags! Brian and I are beside ourselves with giddiness (?) that the kids are old enough to enjoy this type of thing. Beckett rode his first roller coaster, we all saw Santa, took in the lights, and experienced a really neat Christmas Story musical. We finished the night with s'mores around a campfire. Perfection.

Saturday was a jam-packed day. We started the morning with presents, hauled out to a soccer game (that got cancelled), and then came back and changed into JAMMIES! The boys made deep fried something or other while the girls crafted with the kids (how cliche are we?!). We spent all afternoon relaxing and playing games. Then we put those dern kids to bed and finished the festivities with adult only time! A couple of years ago, we started having adults open their presents once the kids were sleeping. BRILLIANT. It's so much more fun this way! After opening our (awesome) gifts, we broke out the games! We played that silly mitten game that's been going around on Facebook and it was HILARIOUS! Then the girls spent the rest of the evening DOMINATING in Catch Phrase.

Sunday morning we finished our weekend off with breakfast together at IHOP! The weekend was quick, but super special. I love these people! 

Uhll | Hill | Montgomery 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Oh Lordy. Do you ever look at other people's family photos and wonder how in the world their family can be so normal while you're over here herding cats?? Seriously. Photographers must have magic fairy dust because I am AMAZED that the chaos that ensued in the minutes before this photo session is not blatantly obvious on each and every photo.

The day before this session, Brian and I ran around town looking for tops for all four of us. Beckett & Brian had nothing, Charlie's had spontaneously combusted a green spot on the front of hers, and I just never know what to do when it comes to clothes. We found shirts for 3 of us, but not Charlie, so we asked the photographer to photoshop the spot out. She rocked it. 

After tossing back and forth, I decided NOT to wear the new sweater I bought. Brian went to get dressed right before we walked out the door only to realize his shirt fit like it was two sizes too big. And both Brittany and Avaya were missing a shoe. Everyone needed to go shopping RIGHT. NOW. And we had about 20 minutes to spare. 

The Hills + Grandparents headed to Kohls. B and I ran through, Supermarket Sweep style, while Nana and Papa waited in the car. Of course, they didn't have the shirt we'd gotten before in Brian's size, so we raced around looking for the right color pallet, in his size. The only thing we could find was super wrinkly and Kohls only had ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR IRONS (why do those even exist?!) so we decided to roll with it. You can't even tell he's wrinkly (and sweating)!

While we were playing shop as fast as you can, Brittany was looking for socks in the dirty laundry bag (don't act like you haven't done it) and she found the missing shoes! How in the world two shoes from two different pairs ended up in the dirty laundry is a mystery to all of us, but hallelujah for not having to buy last minute shoes! 

Charlie fell asleep on the way to the photo shoot. Not cool. When she woke up, she was not in the mood to cooperate and was incredibly offended we wanted her to wear a fur vest and match Avaya. Notice her signature beside-herself-with-shock-and-appall move. 

You'll notice that she's not particularly happy in MOST of the pictures, is completely missing from some, and the vest only makes a couple of cameo appearances - never in the way we intended.

Despite the rough start, and a bit of an attitude from one particularly sassy two year old, we had a LOT of fun taking pictures, and it was significantly less stressful than I anticipated. 

The goal was to get decent family photos as a Christmas gift to Nana & Papa, and in that I think we succeeded! I love my family!! 

Charlie Grace is Two!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I know it's been said, but time just really goes by too fast. As I was preparing for Charlie's second birthday, I found myself perusing old pictures of her and it truly seems like another lifetime that she was a baby! It's only been TWO YEARS!

Last year, we did a big Garden Party for Charlie's first birthday. We went all out and it was just dreamy. This year (and all years between 1 and 5) we decided to keep it "simple." I was made fun of for my version of simple, but how about you do your thang, I'll do mine. ;)

Charlie is currently baby & bear-obsessed, so instead of planning entertainment, we decided to head to Build a Bear! We invited our besties and spent the morning bringing our newest fuzzy friends to life! This was SO MUCH FUN and absolutely brilliant. No prep, organizing, or clean-up. Total blast for both kids and adults. And we walked away with some stinkin cute new friends. 

We let the kiddos take their time exploring the store, choosing the details of their new friends, and just enjoying the morning. If you don't know this crew, Rubie is the daughter of my college roommate and bestie, Rachel. And Penny is the daughter of Brian's college roommate and bestie, Josh. All of us got married in the same summer and then we all had girls around the same time. How stinkin sweet is that?!

After Build-A-Bear, we headed home, where the house was ready for some more festivities! We had a Mac and Cheese Bar (macaroni + bacon + pulled pork = Charlie's favorite foods) and a donut "cake" (meaning a cutie stack of donuts from the local shop). Low prep, high impact! Add a few balloons and streamers, some messy confetti, and voila!

When the time came to sing happy birthday, she melted down and fell to the floor. Don't ask. I have no clue what got into her. She seems to have a flare for the dramatic. She recovered quickly when it was time to eat her doughnut! She only ate the toppings, though. Weirdo. 

Between two sets of grandparents and two sets of aunts and uncles shipping gifts down in advance, this sassy two year old had quite the stack before her guests even arrived. She made out with a TON of new babies and accessories... all of which she thoroughly enjoys.

We are INCREDIBLY grateful to have this spunky, chatty, two year old to complete our little family. She's everything I imagined and more. I cannot wait to see what her future holds! Happy Birthday, Charlie Grace! And thank you to all of our friends and family for making this day so perfect! 

Paris Day 3: Eiffel in Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Despite being in coach while our traveling buddies chilled in first class, we had a good flight. We played cards and chatted, without a care in the world. This is always a special little pastime because brian and I used to play cards a lot. Now it's a rare treat. So I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little giddy. It's the simple things! SWOON! We even got a little bit of sleep, which is a nice perk! We arrived in Paris at 7am Paris time (1am Eastern), dropped our luggage and headed straight to our first stop of the trip, the Eiffel Tower! [We only got turned around on the subway once, so I say we're doing pretty well].


It's winter here, so it was a chilly adventure, but the tower was a great start. We could see all of the major points of the city and learned a little about the history here. Plus, getting to enjoy all of this with Devin and Katie has been such a treat already.  


Since we're at the Eiffel Tower, in the most romantic city in the world, on Valentine's Day, we decided we couldn't do without a champagne toast. So fun and cheesy, it made my day.  


The Eiffel was actually pretty intimidating. We went to the summit and I had a hard time stepping away from the wall. It didn't help that it is a particularly gusty day out! It also had a glass floor, which I struggled on! When did I become such a pansy?? Generally, Brian is the one who struggles with this sort of thing because he's afraid of heights, but he definitely navigated better than I did!


After the Tower, we had a delicious French lunch and then headed back to our hotel for some MUCH needed naps (where we accidentally overslept)! A couple hours later, we hauled out again for an AMAZING Valentine's Day Dinner at a nearby restaraunt. They specialize in foods from the south of France, so they had this amazing bit of cheesy potato goodness called aligot. It's a mix of mashed potatoes and laguiole cheese and pretty much the most intriguing thing I've seen today.  They scoop and scrape it out of this pot and I can guarantee you our crew has never been so entertained by a pot of potatoes. It's generally served with sausage, so I deemed it the FRENCH equivalent of Bangers and Mash. It was a great first night in France, and we're giddy for more adventures! Tomorrow we have a food tour and a scavenger hunt in the Louvre! 


PS. Do you get the title? {I Fell} in Love?! :)

Vacay Day 2: Je t'aime New York 

Monday, February 13, 2017

We slept in this morning, drank coffee with our Empire State view, and gorged on left over Lo Mein. Thank you, Fucitos & New York, for being such wonderful hosts!  After a relaxing morning (which also happens to be the anniversary of the day we got engaged!), we loaded up and trekked through Manhattan to catch our train to JFK. We both LOVE this city and talked about how we could totally live here and enjoy walking and public transportation everywhere.   Once we arrived to JFK, my entrepreneur husband jumped on a conference call we'd had scheduled with a patent lawyer. How grown up is he?! He's always jotting notes and dreaming up big ideas. He's been working on most favorite idea in his very limited free time lately, including on yesterday's flight. I love watching how excited he gets about working on new projects and can't wait until his brilliant app is finished so I can use it!! Then. The BEST part of the day happened. My baby brother, and my baby sister in law, who happens to be carrying my new baby nephew, all arrived. I am seriously so giddy about this trip!!  We boarded the plane together but my fancy pants siblings have friends in high places and were therefor upgraded to boujee class.  We're back here with the people who don't make it on the lifeboats, but it's cool. We're all going to the same place! Pair-ee, here we come!!
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