Wednesday, November 30, 2016

4th Annual North Pole Breakfast

With great anticipation, our elf Alfie has returned! The boys' cousins' elves had already arrived by Thanksgiving, so Jackson and Andrew were anxiously awaiting his appearance. As is his tradition, he arrived in style with breakfast from the North Pole!

This year he made cinnamon roll Christmas trees, yogurt with festive sprinkles, banana and strawberry candy cane, and everyone's favorite snownuts!

I know Alfie was delighted to see these excited faces!

Of course, Alfie brought the boys new Christmas jammies!

I think Andrew ate about 6 snownuts! He kept reaching for another one each time we looked away. This is his guilty face. =)

Ben enjoyed his snownut as well!

And the resulting sugar rush!

We started working on our Christmas tree when we got home on Saturday night.  The boys were truly a big help this year. They wanted to put up each and every ornament and did a great job of taking turns on the step stool to spread out the ornaments on the whole tree and not just the bottom branches! They are growing up! We made it about halfway before Ben got tired and fussy.

After our North Pole breakfast on Sunday morning we finished our team effort in getting the tree decorated and Justin got all the outside decorations put up that afternoon during the boys' naps.

It's definitely looking like Christmas around here!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Tree Day!

We made our traditional trip to the Christmas tree farm the morning after Thanksgiving. We pull into the farm in 4 different vehicles, 20 people pile out, and we leave with 5 trees. I'm sure we are a sight to behold!

After a bit of debate, we found the Malnar tree!

The big boys were very excited to use the saw! Daddy got it started.

Jackson got his turn...

...and then Andrew!

After we got our trees, we headed to the community park to let the kids burn off some energy.

It's so fun/weird to see Ben running around, exploring and trying to keep up with the big kids!

Cousin love!

Baby cousin love!

Later on that evening, we celebrated Leo's first birthday a little early. He thoroughly enjoyed his cake!

Benjamin enjoyed it too!

After the cake was devoured, we decorated Gram and Pop's tree.

Both big boys were very excited about decorating the trees this year, but especially Jackson! He insisted that I take a picture of him hanging each ornament. Here's a small sample. =)

He insisted on taking pictures of me too!

This is my treasured lid ornament. I made it in kindergarten. It was supposed to be holly leaves and berries but do you know how hard it is to cut felt with safety scissors and 5 year old hands? It's become a family joke, but the ugliest ornament still gets a place of honor at eye level on the tree every year. I love that my mom's tree and now my tree is filled with a treasure trove of family memories. Ornaments gathered from our travels, random collections and kids' artwork.  They may not be the prettiest trees, but what they lack in sophistication they makes up for in sentimentality and nostalgia.

The next day we made our annual trip to the Loblolly Model Train Display. The boys look forward to it every year.

Ben enjoyed it this year too!

All the kids took one last four wheeler ride with Pop before the Malnar clan headed back to College Station. We had our own decorating to do and someone special was waiting for us!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at the Cabin in the Woods. The boys had a blast playing with all their cousins, and we enjoyed relaxing around the house, visiting with family and stuffing our faces.

Jackson said his favorite part of the trip was the big swing. It's always a hit! The best part is, no one fights over it because it can hold quite a few kiddos at one time!

For the first time, Benjamin got the run of the place and he sure enjoyed stretching those little legs!

The night before Thanksgiving we got to spend the evening with Papa John and Granny. We asked for the picture at the end of the evening when everyone was getting a little tired, so 4 out of 5 aint bad!

We put three very tired kids to bed and then enjoyed some big laughs over this silly game, LOLz! With the lip retractors in, try to say something like "Wrestling Match Wearing Parachutes". My abs hurt the next day from laughing so hard. And Marc and I totally dominated, so there's that. =)

Thanksgiving morning started with a flock of cinnamon roll turkeys and the parade on tv!

Mom asked for a picture of everyone and I think we nailed it! What a good looking bunch! I'm immeasurably thankful for all of these people!

The original "DuFrene 6". My how we've grown!

And this is the only picture I took in proximity to the big feast! Our little turkey thoroughly enjoyed his meal! He probably ate his first Thanksgiving dinner better than either of the boys ever have!

After big naps for everyone, we all enjoyed some fresh air and exercise. Benjamin and I took a few hikes with him in the Ergo and he loved it! (And the extra calorie burn sure didn't hurt mom, am I right?)

Andrew has been so excited about fall and fall leaves since his teachers started talking about the changing seasons early last month. Fall has been a bit elusive thus far, but he was thrilled to finally find some leaves that had changed color! It's also been on his fall bucket list to jump in a leaf pile, so he got out his rake and got to work. And Pop helped a tiny bit with his leaf blower. ;)

It may have started as Andrew's project, but the other kids were quick to join in!

Mid leaf fight, Jackson and Evie decided they needed to see who was taller this visit. Even though Evie is a year younger, she and Jackson stay pretty even height wise (her dad is 6'7 though, so Jackson will probably ultimately lose this competition!) It may not look like it from this picture because they were standing on an incline, but once on even ground, Jackson is currently a smidge taller.

I'm glad we were able to sneak in a few more fall activities because Christmas is coming!