Elf on a Shelf came to us this year!  One morning the kids woke up to find her sitting in the chandelier.

After reading the book, we learned if anyone touched her, she would lose her magic and not be able to return to Santa each night and report on their behavior.  The kids decided Holly was a good name for our elf.  She had little earrings.
 At first Holly was very naughty!
 She even TPed the kitchen and bathroom one night!
Then she got in the pantry and got her KIX!
All over the floor...
 Kaitlin heard from friends at school that Elves like sugar.  So we left the sugar jar open.
That didn't work, so we tried sugar cubes.
 Karlie thought she needed someone to play with.  So we left the Barbies by her.  Looks like Holly knows how to have a good time!
 Marshmallow bubble bath.
 Then she stole a doll dress, so we got a skirt for her.  Suddenly Holly settled down.  But finding her became harder and harder.  On Christmas Eve morning she was in the oven with the cookies!
 Kaitlin left her a goodbye note.  Holly went back to the North Pole until next year.  I am hoping the kids were good enough that Holly won't need to return.  But the kids are confident that Holly is our Elf forever and we will get to see her naught little grin next year!

Christmas Slumber Party

 Last night the kids wanted to sleep under the Christmas tree!
  Hailey started out with the gang but after the K buddies fell asleep, she decided her bed was better than being a sardine.
Hank was so excited he didn't drift off until 10.  Siri was the first of the kids to crash.  She LOVED sleeping with her pack.  When I would come out to check on them she would awaken and start growling until she saw me.  Made me feel like they were in good paws.  I think these are the best presents under the tree for sure!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
 The Christmas spirit managed to find us at 6 am!  
Hank's big presents were a Batmobile, a skateboard, Harry Potter, Spider-man and Batman costumes.  He also got outfitted for his first upcoming T-ball season.  I can see broken windows in our future.
 Kaitlin had a Hello Kitty Christmas.  She got an entire bed set, Hello Kitty watch, and scooter, jammies.  She also got a giant zebra.
 Her most wanted present was a new itouch!  She has been texting me all morning. :)
 Karlie had a pretty magical Christmas too.  She also got a new itouch, magic tricks set, fashion design studio, Baby Alive and a programmable robot.
 And she finally got her violin!  She has wanted to play for many years but we wanted her to have a strong foundation in piano first.  Her piano teacher said she was ready to move to violin.  We are very excited for our little Irish girl to get fiddling!
Hailey has wanted a professional mermaid tail since my first attempt at making tails.  Santa came through today!
 She also got numerous artist supplies, Breyer horses, a youth archery set, and Ugg boots!
 Hank took the Batmobile out for a test drive this morning.  So fun!
It is holly jolly time of year watching them play with all their new treasures. 

Little Mama.
Growing up so fast.
Hey Batter, Batter!
Aim True.

We hope you all have a Blessed Christmas.  We miss our family so much at times like this.  Know we are thinking of you today and wishing we were with you all.

Bearly Sleeping

It is finally almost here!  The most happiest day of the year.
 Or not...  Today was a bear of a day.  Not at all like our idyllic time with the Polar Express.  Today was wrought with meltdowns, too much last minute shopping, kids fighting and me over extending everyone. There are all these fantasies of a white Christmas and a perfect family dinner playing in my mind, only to be confronted with a hot desert day full of hustle and bustle and hypoglycemic kids making everyone cranky.  Maybe even a day of board games and favorite Christmas movies where everyone is happy taunts me.  Ours was full of frustration.  But that is living in reality of life with four kids.  Sometimes all the stars align and it is really magical.  But most of the time it isn't picture perfect.  After the grocery store, last minute shopping, the Christmas play at church (where Hank was a total nightmare because he skipped his nap and had hot chocolate and cookies instead of lunch) and a prime rib that didn't want to cook which delayed dinner until nearly 8pm; Max and I are more than ready to call it day.
But as any good elf knows, its the most busiest time of year.  With the fire on, the tea brewing and Christmas songs playing, we will attempt to de-Scrooge ourselves.  The family PJs this year say Bearly Sleeping.  So true on this most amazing night for young and parents alike.  After reading the story of Jesus' birth to the kids before bedtime, my spirits are lifted.  Love moved into the neighborhood.  So while I may be bearly sleeping (and aggravated), it is with the motivation of love for the four most precious things on earth that I am here making merry.

All Aboard!

Last night we took the kids to the Polar Express!!  I have been planning this night since early August when I bought our train tickets!!!!

Max and I made special golden Polar Express tickets to give them when we told them.  (You can get the glitter gold paper at Office Max and use this template to print them.) 

It started with a small hunt for the Polar Express Book.  Then I told them to pack their bags because we were going on an adventure.  They had to wait 4 agonizing hours to find out where.  The guesses were Disneyland, Kansas, Hawaii, the North Pole, California, Flagstaff, and Colorado.  They would stare at our Family 50 map trying to figure out what sate we could get to and back before Christmas.
 Once we dropped Siri off with the sitter, we gave them the tickets. :)
 There was much squealing and delight!  Me included.
We settled down for our 3 hour drive to the train station watching none other than the Polar Express.
One of the highlights for the kids on our road trips is stopping to get gas and any one junk food item in the store.  Hank got a giant chocolate rice crispy treat, Kaitlin popcorn, Karlie orange cupcakes, Hailey chocolate cupcakes, me Doritos (of course), and Max got spicy beef jerky.
 Our hotel was in the cutest little town of Williams on Route 66.
 Max learned from the Starbucks gal that the Polar Express brings in 100,000 tourist to their sleepy town.
 It was really one of those special trips that live up to my imagination.  We walked down the charming main street and stopped for dinner at a 50s themed diner attached to the Grand Canyon Brewing Company.

Dinner and drinks were great and the kids were well behaved.  So good they even earned desert!  Max and I lived it up and got a banana split.  Then it was time for the kid to change into their PJs and robes so we could head to the train station.
 They had a little elf village set up outside the Train Depot.
 They announced that the Polar Express was arriving!!
 Even the hobo showed up to wish us a Merry Christmas.  Hank declined his cup of Joe offer.  Maybe the dirty sock in the cup turned him off.
All Aboard!!!
 The train was complete with chefs in white hats, hot chocolate and cookies.
 Everyone followed along in their books as they read the Polar Express story as we traveled to a time warp tunnel to the North Pole.
As the conductor came around they were beside themselves to have their tickets punched.
 She punched their initial into the ticket.

 The kids were not the only ones over the moon.
 If that wasn't enough excitement, after we went through the North Pole Santa came through the car!
 He gave each of the kids a beautiful silver bell with Polar Express engraved on it.
 Santa told Hank and Kaitlin that "my magic only works when you are asleep on Christmas night."
 He asked the big girls if they were on the naughty or nice list.
 The bells make the most beautiful, sweet sound for all those that believe.
 I believe in the magic of Christmas, for it was a night I will always remember as wonderful childhood fantasy.  My eyes must have welled up a dozen times with joy.  It was the most merriest of nights that I will treasure.