Christmas in Wisconsin

The last bit of our trip was spent at my parents’ house with my siblings, their spouses, and their kiddos.  We had a great time!

Over those days and nights together, we cooked and ate a lot of yummy food, went out for dinner, and celebrated Lauren’s birthday with some cake:

Opened a few presents and played with legos:

Played a lot of games:

Read a lot of books:

Had general fun all together, including art projects, playing in the snow, learning about heaven with Grandma, watching the Packers game, playing piano, and taking little cat naps:

And, of course, took some group shots, including the annual picture of cousins.  This year they were all wearing shirts based on books.

It was wonderful. =D

 

 

Christmas in Chicago

We wanted to take the boys down to Chicago for a day since we hadn’t done that as a family.  It was uncharacteristically warm the day we went and it was absolutely lovely.  It’s such a cool city!  We were all glad we snuck away for the day and night – enjoyed yummy food, sight-seeing (Micah and Mike went to the top of the Sears – yes, in my head it’s still called that – tower), and playing color tag in the park.

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Mikey and I went to the top of the Sears Tower back in our dating days in 2003.  Such little babies we were! =D

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Christmas Week in Wisconsin

After our long weekend in Michigan (Monday), we headed back to Wisconsin for a quieter week with my parents. (By Friday, the whole family spent the remainder of our time together – that will be in a separate post)

On Monday night, we all decorated cookies.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with another Shepherd’s Meal outside by the fire.

On Christmas morning, Ethan played the prelude at church with Grandma and then played the postlude solo.  Then we had a yummy lunch with Brad and Sal.  The Misner crew surprised us with an earlier arrival that day, so we were excited to spend the day with them, too!  We decorated even more cookies with Aunt Sal.  These ones were very tasty.  =)

Other activities from that week included playing games, playing with Uncle Ger’s game pieces, and practicing piano.

^ Uncle David sent some awesome Legos to my parents house for Christmas, which also kept the boys very busy all week! ^

Ethan in Philadelphia

When each of their grandchildren turn ten, my parents hope to take them on a solo trip of their dreams.  Ethan is the first grandchild to get this privilege and he had a wonderful time!  He didn’t have to think for long about where he’d like to go with them; he opted for Philadelphia as soon as he learned about the trip.  He wanted to see the Liberty Bell, the Mint, Gettysburg, and Falling Waters.  He did all of that and more!  He and Grandpa kept journals for the trip, but pictures will tell the stories best on the blog.  He had a blast! =)

Here are some pictures from our brief morning in Wisconsin before heading back to home.

We are SO thankful that the boys have opportunities to see the world with people they adore.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for taking Ethan on this trip of a lifetime!  He will cherish these memories always.

Mike & Micah’s One-on-One Trip

Not long after we returned home, it was time for each of us to head in different directions.  Ethan went on his 10-year-old-trip-with-grandpa-and-grandma to Philadelphia.  I traveled to Atlanta to help my sister at her trade show and got to see family and friends there, too.  Meanwhile, Mike and Micah had their one-on-one trip for the year.

They had one day at home before heading out:

They first flew down to Phoenix so that Micah could spend a day with Grandma Cleve.  Since Ethan and I were gone for such a long time, Mike wanted to make sure Micah had some extra fun, even though a one-on-one trip with him is typically only a long weekend.  Micah had developed an awful rash prior to the trip, but it sadly grew worse over time.  Apparently, though, he was not one to complain about it even though it looked pretty miserable.  He loved his special day with Grandma Cleve, particularly going mini-golfing in the dark!

The following morning, the guys grabbed breakfast with Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A and then were off on their adventure to San Diego.

Day 1 – traveling to San Diego and enjoying the hotel, cool car, and the beach:

Day 2 – Sea World

These two had a wonderful time together.  It was remarkable to me to see how much growth Micah experienced when comparing this trip to the one he took last year with Mike.  Such a difference a year can make!

Part 4: Missouri

Our final stop for our month-long trip was Missouri to visit Mike’s Dad.  We had a great time there, as usual, and especially loved getting to spend time with Mike’s brother for part of the time.

The boys loved the pool!  They rescued frogs/toads from it every morning and spent much of the day swimming.

They also loved shooting guns, playing ping pong, being with the dogs, and catching fireflies.

Overall, it was a very relaxing part of our vacation and we were so glad to get to spend time with Grandpa Russ again.

Part 3: Minnesota

Mike had a meeting in Minnesota early Tuesday morning, so I opted to stay in Wisconsin for one more night and then drive solo with the boys the following day.  We had an uneventful trip and finished another book or two.

We spent under a week in Minnesota.  The main attraction was to see the wedding of Mike’s friend and co-worker on Saturday.  One day, per the boys’ request, we explored the skyways.  This included going to the library and participating in their reading challenges. We also spent some time at the pool and visiting Daddio’s work.  Another day, we had the chance to go for a bike ride around one of the beautiful lakes there.  A pending storm really ruined the atmosphere for the boys who really didn’t like the idea of being caught in the rain.

On Saturday, we spent time exploring an outdoor art museum and then went to the wedding celebration.

We really enjoy Minneapolis so much.  Short, but oh so sweet.

Part 2: Wisconsin

We stayed in Wisconsin at my parents’ house (most of that time they were off gallivanting with my sister and her family in Europe, so you won’t see many pictures of any of them) for the next two and a half weeks.  Part of that time Mike was in Minneapolis, but most of it he was also in Wisconsin working from home.  The highlights are too many to count on this portion of the trip, but I especially loved being near my brother and his family to spend every-day-life time with them.

We’ll start with pictures from the first few days while my parents were still in town:

Jen and J gave Ethan the birthday gift of going to Hamilton in Chicago with them.  He did a little preparing for it.  And then I drove down and babysat Salina while they went to the show.  We left the following morning after a little time with the family.  Ethan had a great time and now added two songs from the show to his playlist.

Meanwhile:

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We had a lot of FUN hang out time with the cousins (time at the house, walks, zoo, baseball game, lots of games, and bike races – “Go, Bikes, Go!!!”) :

And we did a few things on our own as a family, like golfing and biking (family met us at the beach after one such ride).  Micah and I also went on a hike on our own one day.  And we visited the lighthouse where Mike’s grandpa used to live and work: