Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Hutchinson

Jon's brother and his family were making the trek from Virginia out to Hutchinson, KS for Christmas, so we headed up for a visit. The whole Grief family was together!

The cousins were all happy to finally see each other after a whole year!

Emily and Luke got winter hats from Grandma and Grandpa. Too cute! Luke LOVES his Angry Birds hat!

Luke enjoyed some quality time playing dinosaurs with his Uncle Jamie.

Ben and Nathaniel got new knives and couldn't wait to check them out!

Abby and Katie got manicure sets. I loved seeing them getting manicures from Grandma.


We played a rousing game of Headbandz! FUN!!

A fun family weekend!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas ~ 2011

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Luke 2:8-14


Merry Christmas from The Grief Family!


It's hard not to get excited about presents when they are coming in the mail or sitting under the tree for a long period of time. I had presents delivered here Thanksgiving weekend. I can handle them being around, but after a while I just really want to know what is in them! Thankfully the kids did well with not bugging (too much) about opening them.

The day finally came where the kids couldn't hardly stand it anymore! Grammy's gifts came and they were ready to be done waiting! I didn't mind if they opened the Grammy's gifts early, I just wanted to make sure that Grammy could Skype so she could see everyone open her gifts. I love Skype!


THANK YOU, GRAMMY!!! We all love all of our gifts!

THANK YOU, MOM!!!

I figured it would be ok to let the kids open any gifts that weren't from me and Jon.

THANK YOU, AUNT KRIS, UNCLE SCOTT, LEX, KORT, REILLY & ERIN!!

It has always been a tradition to let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve. The funny thing is that they don't all really know it is a tradition. Every year the kids would beg, all day long, to open one present and Jon and I would finally let them open one right before bedtime. The only stipulation is that I get to choose which gift. What they didn't realize (until Ben figured it out last year) is that is that it is the same gift every year!



Every year I would make Christmas jammies for each of them. That way, they could wear them to bed that night and look cute and Christmas-y for Christmas morning. The only difference with this year's gift was that I didn't make the jammies. It was a little bit less stressful for me and a little bit easier on the pocketbook. The saddest part of the whole thing is that the kids didn't even notice that their jammies weren't homemade. :( I guess that's just one of those things that meant more to me than to them. I would love to get back to the homemade jammies next year. Maybe it's just one of those things they will remember and appreciate when they're older.

Whether homemade or storebought, they still look adorable!

Once "the children were nestled all snug in their beds" Santa came!

(Apparently this is the only picture I took on Christmas morning. I just sat back and enjoyed the morning with my family!)
All three kiddos were thrilled with what they found when they got up! Sadly, Ben was up in the middle of the night and went to take a peek and ruined the dramatic effect that Jon and I were hoping for. :( Luke was still surprised!

Dinner was traditional and dessert was delicious! (I never managed to find the time or motivation to bake all of the usual cookies and candies, so this Chocolate Peppermint Roll was extra satisfying!)



What could be better than one day of Christmas celebrating? Two or three days! We had a few gifts arrive a little bit late, but the kids were just as excited to get them!

THANK YOU, UNCLE BRIAN & HALEY!

THANK YOU, AUNT BECCA, UNCLE NEIL & NOLAN!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jon!

Jon didn't really have anything in mind for his birthday. He was pretty fond of the idea of hanging out at home and having a home-cooked dinner. So, that's what we did! He got a cast iron skillet for Christmas (Yes, we opened gifts from Mom early.) and was dying to try it out. We decided to give biscuits and gravy a try. YUM! They turned out delicious! Steak, roasted potatoes and Caesar salad were on the birthday dinner menu.

Present time!

Jon is going to start school in February. What better gift than a shirt from the new school. I think that makes him an official college student. (:

Lots of hugs!

My first attempt at an ice cream cake. I think it turned out great. Jon loved it which is all that really mattered anyway.

Happy Birthday, Jon! I know your day was a little bit chaotic this year with getting ready for Christmas and all, but I hope you had a decent day. I promise that next year won't be nearly as busy!
I love you very much!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuba Christmas ~ Tulsa

Have you ever heard of Tuba Christmas? Apparently these events are held all over the United States. I hadn't heard of it until last year and recently attended one of their events here in Bartlesville. The event here was held on the lawn of the Frank Phillips home. There were approximately 45 tubas and euphoniums (or baritones) playing Christmas carols. The sound was a.maz.ing! Ben (who plays the trombone) wished that he played the tuba or baritone so that he could participate. Well...his band teacher said that if he would like to attempt the baritone she would allow him to bring one home to practice on. WOW! Ben was thrilled and couldn't wait to be a part of this fun, festive event.

Abby and her friend, Anna, enjoyed playing on the toys in the mall while we waited for the music to begin.

Those who don't normally play the tuba, baritone or euphonium were recognized. I was shocked to see how many there were!

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Ben and his decked out baritone.

This is the group that went down to Tulsa from Bartlesville.

Apparently, no matter the age, silly pictures are still necessary!

Ben loved being able to participate in Tuba Christmas! He struggled a bit as he was playing on a completely different instrument than he is used to, but he can't wait to do it again next year!

Our Favorite Train

I don't know how many times I have posted pictures of little visits we have made to this train. The thing is, Luke LOVES it and it is a great place to take people when they visit as well as a great photo op. Well, this past weekend we went downtown for the Christmas parade and Luke knew it was very close and really wanted to go see it. (So much so that he didn't even want to watch the parade and cried and carried on until we finally went to see it.) But this time the train was different.

The light was on!

And the whistle was working! (There is always a bell that you can ring, but rarely is the whistle hooked up!) Luke was beside himself with excitement!

I love the train (not as much as Luke, of course!) and look forward to many more trips to climb in and ring the bell!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hand-Me-Downs

I love hand-me-downs. I love when the kids played with each others handed down toys. I love that all three of my babies slept in the same crib. I love that, even with two boys and one girl, that there are articles of clothing that they have all shared!

I don't think Luke had ever seen this shirt hanging in his closet before, so he was pretty excited when he saw what I chosen for him to wear that day. I had to explain to him that this was once Ben's shirt, then it was Abby's and now it was his turn to wear it. He thought that was pretty cool! (Even cooler is that it was first Alex's shirt and she is now 17!)


I wish I had time to go digging for pictures of Ben and Abby in this shirt. Maybe one of these days. In the dreary wintertime...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Snowman Crafty's!

Aren't these little snow-girlies adorable!
(They certainly don't look like snowmen!)


My mom sent me the idea and I knew I would be making them! They were the perfect little gift for my MOPS group! So easy, so fun and SO CUTE!! Pretty sure I'll be making a lot more!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

All-City Christmas Band Concert

The all-city Christmas concert is quite possibly my favorite concert of the year! All of the bands from 7th through 12th grade perform and then at the end all of the bands line the perimeter of the auditorium and play together! I love it!

Of course, I thought Ben's band sounded amazing!

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French Bell Carol

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The Grinch Medley

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All of the bands wishing us a Merry Christmas together!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Time Is Here!

It just doesn't feel like Christmas when you're driving around town and it's 63 degrees outside, the car windows are cracked, listening to Christmas music. I am NOT complaining!! I was, however, really excited to get out all of the Christmas decorations and make it feel Christmas-y in our house.

I love this little tree and it's tiny little ornaments and the nativity set that Luke can play with!

Luke was thrilled about all of the decorations, but all he ever really wanted was the Christmas train! He didn't care that we didn't have a tree yet! He was just as happy to play with it in the middle of the floor!

I put up the lights that I could reach and then Jon and Ben do the rest. Ben was happiest to be up on the roof! (The child scares me half to death sometimes!)

Everybody helped decorate the tree.

The finished product.



We are all ready for a fun-filled Christmas season of family, friends, playing, eating, shopping and most importantly, celebrating the birth of Jesus!

Omelete Making

While Kris, Scott and the girls were here over Thanksgiving weekend, Scott made omelets for breakfast one day. Ben was intrigued and watched very closely so that he could try making them himself. He only made one, so I didn't taste it, but I was very impressed with how it looked. Especially on his first attempt.



Ben loves to come up with creations in the kitchen. He is going to make a great husband some day!

Clarinet Christmas

Abby is doing a great job of adding some festive sounds around our house!

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I'm so impressed with this girl!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Back in September, when we were in Indianapolis for Kris and Scott's wedding, I asked their family to come out for Thanksgiving. I was thrilled when I got the text on the way back home that they would be coming! It had been a long time since they had been out to our house and they had never been to our house in Oklahoma! I started the countdown! I couldn't wait!

After talking to Kris about when they would be leaving their house, I figured that they would get here really late. I was so happy when she called and told me they were able to get on the road a little bit early! Hooray for happy surprises!!
Thankfully, Thanksgiving Day was a fairly low key day. It was great to be able to just sit around and hang out with family. We opted for a later dinner time which meant that we didn't have to spend the whole morning in the kitchen. We played, talked, watched the parade, checked out the Black Friday (or Black Thrusday...) sales, watched football, munched on snacks, watched The Brady Bunch...

I had some fun making some festive little place cards for a fun and festive Thanksgiving table. The bottom picture is of the kiddy table. I think it helped the bigger kids not feel so bad about sitting at the "kiddy table".

Turkey success!
I know I had made a turkey breast before, but can't remember if I had ever done the whole bird. I have to say it turned out great! Super moist and delicious!

Time to eat!
I have so much to be thankful for, but this year, on this day, I am SO thankful that I got to spend my Thanksgiving with these special people!

Ben and Alex each requested a turkey leg... (gag!!) Man, I think they really enjoyed them! There were many sounds, jokes, and just plain grossness that went along with those legs! Kris, I know you know what I'm talking about here! I'm sorry, but it was just plain nasty to me! (I am not a fan of bones in my meat!)

Our Thanksgiving feast was amazing!
I got brave and tried to make a pumpkin roll. I love to eat them but have been too intimidated to actually try to make one! After seeing a friend do it and it looked easy, I thought I would give it a try. When I was putting it together on Wednesday night...well...it didn't go so well. I made another one just to try again and have enough for eleven people and it went even worse! My cake didn't want to come out of the pan. Then it didn't want to roll without cracking and the filling oozing out. Let's just say there may have been a tear or two. Despite all of the trouble and stress, the pumpkin rolls turned out super! I will definitely attempt them again! (I would actually love to try some other flavors!)

I am a Black Friday shopper! I love Black Friday! I really wasn't thrilled about the stores opening at midnight (or even earlier). I really don't mind getting up at the crack of dawn and heading out in the cold to get a good deal. I actually look forward to it! With the stores opening at midnight, I wasn't sure if I would even go. Well...after looking at all of the ads, it was hard to resist! Kris and I made our lists and headed out! I had never been shopping with Kris on Black Friday, so I was looking forward to it even more!

I just have to say that I believe that having the stores open at midnight sure brings out A LOT more people! It was, by far, the craziest Black Friday I have ever experienced!

We had a great time and scored some great deals! We got everything on our lists for the day and were happy to take advantage of Walmart's ad matching benefits! Going shopping with my big sister was the best way to start my Christmas shopping!

Since the weather was so great, the guys decided to do a little bit of hiking out at Osage Hills.

While the guys were hiking, we tried and tried to come up with something crafty to do. We finally headed out to Hobby Lobby, but got sidetracked. We ended up going to lunch and then on a tour of Bartlesville. (Since Kris and the girls had never been here before.)

There are a few places you just have to stop on a tour of Bartlesville. The "big train" is one of them! Of course I had my camera with me!

I love it!

While we were at the train, Jon called and said that he and Scott were going to head up to the airport to go for a quick airplane ride. What?! He wasn't going to take the rest of us?!? I asked everyone with me if they wanted to go for an airplane ride to which I heard a resounding "YES!" Sooo...to Independence we all go!

I hadn't been on a ride with Jon in way too long! Isn't that how it goes? I figured if Jon was going to give rides, I wanted to get in on it!

Not only did I want in on it, but Luke wanted to go too! He knows that Daddy works at the airport and that he flies airplanes, but he had never been up in one. This was his lucky day!
YAY!! Luke's first airplane ride!
To say that he loved it would be a complete understatement! The little guy was in love! He couldn't really see anything out the window, but he didn't really care! He was up in an airplane!

This is how Luke felt about getting out of the airplane. He can't wait to go again!

We played a rousing game of Guesstures! Lots of fun! Lots of laughs!
"Underpants!" ha ha ha ha!!!

I bought these jammies for Luke on Black Friday. I still can't get over how stinkin' adorable they are! Could my little Luke be any cuter?!

Scott made some delicious omelets on Saturday morning! YUM!!!


Saturday we headed back to the train to take a few family pictures.

Something like this could be showing up in your mailbox very soon! :)

We "Love the Ville!"

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you know that I believe that no trip to Bartlesville is complete without a trip to Frank & Lola's. Jon and I knew that Kris and Scott would like it as much as we do. We decided that a double date was necessary! I think Frank & Lola's lived up to all of our hype. Kris and Scott really liked it! It was so great to hang out, eat amazingly delicious food and have great conversation. We had the best time! It was a super way to end our weekend together!

Not thrilled to be woke to get on the road...

Kris, Scott, Lex, Kortney, Reilly and Erin, thank you SO, SO much for coming out for Thanksgiving! This weekend lived up to all of my expectations and more! I had such an amazing time spending time with all of you! (We all did!) I wish we could see each other more often, but I think it makes our time that much more special! Thank you for taking the time and spending the money to drive out here. I know that we created memories that will last a very long time!