Monday, December 15, 2014

Wisconsin Weekend

My Grandma was heading south for the winter with plans to leave in early December.  This bumped up my extended family's Christmas celebration and also allowed me to attend for the first time in ten years!  The kids and I drove up one Friday afternoon and made some new Christmas memories on this family-filled weekend.

A new tradition in my family is attending the Miller Brewery Christmas Lights Show.  
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My parents attended the show two years ago and enjoyed it so much that they started to include the rest of the family last year.  I remember seeing the pictures from their time last year and thinking sadly to myself that this is just one more thing that I will miss out on.  Who knew how much things would change in one year?!

The light show was pretty awesome.  Thousands of lights all set to Christmas music.  
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And after the show, there was beer tasting (and soda for the kids).  
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We concluded the night with my Dad treating all of us to dinner at one of his favorite spots in Milwaukee.  We took up three different tables!
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St. Nicholas arrived by the following morning.
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And Curtis started to feel under the weather.  'Tis the season for the sickies!  
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I sprayed disinfectant around everything that Curtis touched and, thankfully, he was feeling better by the evening when the rest of the family came over for Christmas.

(I copied the rest of these photos off of Shutterfly from an album that my sister shared.  The resolution is a little lower because they are just copies, but I still wanted to include them so that I could have the memories on this blog). 
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I met my cousin's baby.  It's been a while since I held such a wee, little one! 
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This is always a highlight about coming home during the cold months.  I love fireplaces! 
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The evening concluded with a dice game. 
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These two were partners and ended up winning the game! 
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Ava slept over that night and all four kids slept on the floor in Grandma and Grandpa's room! 
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This was just the first of many more Christmas celebrations to come!  I love this time of year.  :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

O Christmas Tree!

We head to do a little hunting of tree farms before we could officially hunt for our Christmas tree. I googled farms in the area and found three possible locations.  One place did not have a website and did not pick up their phone when I called.  They were out.  Another place was not open during the week (we went on a Monday.)  They were out.  The final place was just right.  And we had a wonderful experience.

Curtis fell asleep on the way to the tree farm and woke up really cranky.  It appears we did a poor job at reading his mind because we didn't have his monster hat.  I did bring two of his hats to choose from (beard hat and stocking cap) but he wanted neither.  His mood was definitely not photo ready at this moment. 
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Graydon, on the other hand, was a bundle of happiness. 
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And Bella was pretty excited about finding our tree too. 
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My three boys.  Curtis isn't smiling or looking, but at least he's not crying!
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Our tree!
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And finally a smile from Curtis. 
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Getting our tree wrapped and paid for.  Oh wait. . .
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We didn't know it yet, but this tree farm was cash or check only.  We rarely carry either of those with us.  Definitely a road block and the potential for some really disappointed kids.  And then the owner said not to worry about it.  Just send our payment in the mail.

Really?!?!!!!!  That was such a kind act of goodwill towards us.  He was going on faith that we would indeed pay him.  We were very grateful. . . and I wrote out the check as soon as we got home!
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We definitely plan to return to the Tower Family Farm next year for another Christmas tree.

We decorated our tree the next day.  Up goes the star!
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Here she is!  I think the photo would probably have turned out nicer if I would have waited to take the photo until night time.  Too much background light to compete with.  But it is a beautiful tree and smells so good!  This was our first Frasier Fur tree (we got Douglas or Balsam in the past).  This one definitely smells the best!   
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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

p.s.  I added some photos to the post from Bella's birthday party that my sister sent to me.  :)

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bella's 9th Birthday Celebration

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Several members from my family came down to visit and celebrate Bella's birthday.  We enjoyed talking and relaxing on Friday evening.

Our main outing on Saturday was to a winery/brewery just outside of town and then we ate lunch at the restaurant on the property.  At the end of lunchtime, Graydon got sick.  It happened a few more times when we got back home.  I gave him a nice warm bath, which really perked him up and when I got out, found that Curtis and Ava and put together a special place for him to rest.  I love their thoughtfulness.
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Curtis brought Graydon some water and Ava sprayed Lysol around the house.  Such great helpers!
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The party began that evening after a Thanksgiving feast part two. Poor Graydon missed it all as he was already asleep by this point. Ice cream cake is the tradition in the Benetti family and that's what Bella wanted.
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It took a few tries to get all of those candles.
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At this point, I tried to use the flash on my good camera and discovered that it was jammed.  Major bummer.  I used my cell phone camera for the rest of the night, but the quality of the photos just aren't as good.  Truthfully, I've been lazy and rarely bring out my good camera these days.  But for birthdays or anything important, it's a must.  So that kind of stunk.  But a lower quality photo is better than none at all!
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She got so many great presents!
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Lots of new reading material!
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LEGOS!!!
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She also got a super comfy outfit from the Kreusers and more LEGOS and a Wisconsin sweatshirt from Uncle Scott.  Even Curtis wrapped up one of his trucks for her.
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The evening winded down with a game of family memory.  And a side note: somehow this is the only photo that contains a couple of family members besides Ava.  My dad fell asleep on the couch while Mary played the game.  I completely missed Jodi, my Mom, Scott, and Nora.  I have to get a little bit better at taking pics - or at the very least get one that documents everyone that was there!
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After church the following day (Bella's actual birthday), we went out to lunch where Bella was sung to by the wait staff.
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She was surprised by the big sundae.
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But definitely wanted to share it since she was full from her meal.
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After lunch, it was time to say goodbye to everyone.  This was a sad point for Bella.  We cheered the birthday girl up with a little shopping trip to Target.  We hadn't gotten her anything yet.  I gave all of my best ideas to others.  I looked around leading up to her birthday, but nothing quite stood out to me and I didn't want to get her something just to get her something.  So we decided to let her pick it out.  She looked around for quite a while at the toys and games.  There were a few potentials in that area.  But she definitely perked up in the craft area and chose a box of new art supplies and art paper.  She got to work as soon as we got back home.
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6:52pm - She is officially a nine-year-old!  I snapped a photo of her watching her birthday slideshow again.
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We saved a few presents for the end of the day, just to keep the excitement up.
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It was so great having so many people in town to celebrate our girl.  Happy Birthday, Bella!

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Edited to add some photos that my sister sent:

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