I was hopeful that 2021 would resemble a little more normalcy than 2020, and in some ways, it did. But overall, 2021 was just as weird as 2020. Maybe even weirder. Even so, it was a good year. We tried really hard not to let the pandemic define our lives, but learned to coexist with it, while remaining vigilant to protect ourselves (unfortunately we’re in the minority of people still doing this). We were busy with all things Christmas this month, and we had a wonderful, magical Christmas season! Here is how our December went…
A Special Visitor
The kids were SO excited to finally get an Elf on the Shelf! I always thought I could get super creative with this, but the last few years were too unpredictable and chaotic between residency life in Arkansas and moving to multiple different houses, I didn’t really have the energy to devote to it until this year. But this year…we were ALL in! They named him Rocket and they LOVED finding him in silly places all month!
I made a short video for the kids so they could see Rocket’s adventures all year long. Feel free to take a look!
The kids’ cousin Griffin turned 3 this month, and he had a small family indoor pool party to celebrate. The kids had a BLAST swimming with their cousins…even Brody! He went down the slide and loved splashing around in a pool that was just his size!
My bigs are fully vaccinated! It was more of a mess getting this appointment than I expected. Their original appointments got cancelled from short staffing, so I had to scramble around trying to reschedule as soon as possible. I ended up having to pick up the kids a little early from school and driving an hour to Plainfield. Grandma Bev was kind enough to stay with Brody so I didn’t have to stick him in the car all day long. The kids did fantastic, and we even got Dairy Queen afterwards to celebrate. Now 4/5 family members are fully vaccinated…hopefully Brody will have his turn within a few months!
This December had some surprising and unprecedented warmer weather…and since we’re all in a better mood when we’re outside, we soaked it in. We took walks, played in the driveway and in the woods behind our house, and climbed on the hay bales in the open lots.
One day, Ryan and I even took Brody out for an outdoor lunch date. The restaurant was right across the street from an elementary school, so Brody spent the majority of lunch turned around watching and laughing at the kids at recess!
One weekend, my parents visited for the weekend and brought along my sister’s kids for a cousin sleepover. They always have a blast together playing, watching movies and eating popcorn…but their favorite part was that their Elf on the Shelf, Lucky, came over to spend the night as well! And the elves brought Christmas donuts and coloring sheets!
Bro Being Cray
About 95% of my daily life is watching my youngest child be an absolute crazy nut. He has a unique mind of his own! He loves taking off his clothes and running around in just his diaper. He loves getting into the pantry and stealing snacks, or just carrying them around. And he loves climbing on EVERYTHING. I have countless pictures and videos of him living his crazy life…here are a few from this month.
Loving on our Favorite Doc
As Covid continues and we enter another surge, I need to give a quick shoutout to my favorite healthcare hero. He started his career in a pandemic and even though he gets very weary and exhausted from constantly treating sick Covid patients and fighting misinformation, he still comes home with a smile on his face and the determination to help people. When things get bad, I always remind him to keep his N95 mask on, so he sent me a picture of himself once to show me! The kids are so proud of their dad and always welcome him home with open arms (once he has showered and changed of course!) (Note…the below picture on the right was before a shift. Ryan is extremely careful about disinfecting himself once he gets home!) Ryan also took his oral boards this month, so very soon he will officially be a board-certificated emergency medicine physician! We are so proud of him!!
We love all of the little Christmas traditions that we do all month. A few of them are still on a hiatus with Covid (like visiting Santa), but we still enjoy doing the traditions at home.
Baking Christmas cookies is one of our favorite traditions. They honestly enjoy decorating them more than actually eating them!
We also decorated a gingerbread house!
The kids spent the majority of the month in Christmas pajamas. They even have a few matching pajamas so they would coordinate whenever they could!
Another tradition we continued this year (but I didn’t get any photos of) is our Advent Bible study. We read a Bible story and hang an ornament that goes with the story on a small tree. Kinsie has always loved doing this, and now Brax got really into it this year. Even though we haven’t been to church since Covid started, Brax is learning about the Bible in school since he currently attends a Christian school. He had been learning the same stories at school, so he would get really excited to read them again at home. This warmed my heart that my kids were so excited to read the Bible. I hope they always continue to find so much joy in reading God’s word.
Yaya’s Birthday and Christmas at the Zoo
We hadn’t been to Christmas at the Zoo in years, so this year we celebrated my mom’s birthday together with a quick trip to the zoo, followed by cake and ice cream. The zoo was more crowded than we liked…so we all wore our masks most of the time, and we just pushed Brody in the stroller and kept him as far away from people as possible. But the kids loved seeing some animals and all the lights with their cousins. And we all loved celebrating our sweet mama (and Yaya) on her special day!
Yaya in her happy place…with all 6 of her babies!
Ryan had to work on Christmas day this year, so we had to shift around some of our usual Christmas plans. We started out getting together with just Ryan’s immediate family for dinner and gifts, then we went to Aunt Renata’s house the next morning (Christmas Eve morning). Brody had a little bit of a cold during Christmas and was extra clingy, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I had hoped. We did a quick at-home Covid test on him before seeing all of our family though just to be on the safe side. He definitely didn’t enjoy that, but we felt better seeing everyone with a negative Covid test!
After Renata’s house, we came to my parents’ house for dinner, online church, and gifts.
We miss going to in-person church, especially at Christmas time. So we try to still make it feel like we are there by doing the candlelight at the end of the sermon. The kids enjoyed participating with their battery-operated tea lights and singing along with us!
We had a wonderful dinner, and then we opened gifts. The kids loved all the gifts that they got from all their family members…and we had a LOT to take home after 3 different Christmas celebrations!
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with both sides of the family. We headed home that evening, the kids spread their reindeer dust in the yard and they were off to bed ready to see what Santa would bring in the morning!
The kids were so excited to see their gifts from Santa! Ryan didn’t work until 11am, so we were able to take our time in the morning opening gifts and enjoying each other.
Again, in the chaos of present-opening and Brody hanging on me, I didn’t get as many pictures as I like to, but the kids loved all their gifts! Braxton had another dinosaur Christmas, Brody got lots of fun Mickey Mouse toys, and Kinsie loved her Legos and Present Pet.
Ryan and I did pretty well for each other this Christmas too! He got me a Cricut (which I’ve wanted for years but would never buy myself one), and I made him a Lego photo of the two of us. This was quite a project that took hours, but it turned out great and he loved it!
Once it was time for Ryan to head to work, the kids and I loaded back up in the car and spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house again so we didn’t have to be alone on Christmas. The rest of the day was pretty chill, which was nice after the busy day before. It was a wonderful Christmas!
The next week, Megan’s family wanted a play date with the kids, so Kinsie and Brax spent the day with them while I took Brody to hang out with my mom and I ran some errands. First, Megan did some crafts with Kinsie while Brax and Griffin played, then they all went to the Children’s Museum. They had such a great time!
I really wanted to take the kids back to the Wonder Lab while they were off school, so we went on New Year’s Eve morning. This is one of the only places I’ll take Brody since they limit capacity, require masks and disinfect often. We had such a fun morning!
New Year’s Eve
Kinsie stayed up until midnight once a few years ago when we spent New Year’s with my sister’s family, but ever since then, we never did anything special, so we always did an early New Year’s celebration and then the kids went to bed before midnight. But this year, the big kids really wanted to stay up until midnight, so we had lots of fun activities planned, and my parents joined us for the festivities. First we had a glow-in-the-dark dance party. This was SO much fun!
After the dance party and putting Brody to bed, we did some games. We started with Harry Potter Pictionary Air, then played Beat That, which was such a fun party game! This kept us busy for a couple hours, and by the time we were done, it was about 11pm.
By that time, we only had an hour left, so we got some snacks and just hung around and relaxed until midnight. And when I say we, I mean the adults. Kinsie and Brax were SLAP HAPPY. They were so wound up…running around the basement screaming and laughing. I truly thought they would be tired…but no. Not even the slightest. I didn’t even see them yawn once.
They stayed up until midnight EASILY. They were dancing around at midnight ready to keep partying! But after our New Year’s celebration of poppers and fizzy drinks, we finally had to get them calmed down and ready for bed. It was such a fun night, and they actually slept in until almost 10am…which is probably a record for them!
It was a great way to end our year! We’re ready for 2022…at least I think we are! I’m ready to get Brody vaccinated and try to go back to normal life. We have some vacations planned for 2022, including flying on a plane for the first time since before Covid, so I’m hoping this Omicron surge comes and goes quickly and without quite as much damage. Even so, we’ve gotten pretty good at still doing fun things safely. And we’ve really realized that it’s more about who we are spending our time with rather than where we are going or what we are doing. And as long as we are together and happy and healthy, then I feel blessed!
Happy New Year! Below is our December 1 Second Everyday, followed by our 1 Second Everyday for the entire year of 2021. Watching these reminds me that my kids really are happy and enjoying life…and that is all that matters to me!