Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 22-25

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 22-25

Well, I was definitely worn out by the end, but we made it through our 25 Days of Christmas Activities alive – though all three of the kids are sick now.

Maybe we had a bit too much fun. Is that possible?

Dec 22: Christmas slime

I admit, I had no plan for the 22nd and when the day arrived, I was too tired to do anything besides throw some glue and baking soda and glitter into a bowl for the kids to make “Christmas slime.”

And, of course, this was the highlight of their December.

What is it with kids and slime???

Dec 23: Train ride and 2Toots

We took the kids for a ride on the local Metra train station.

We went a total of two stops down the line to where a little train restaurant called 2Toots Train Whistle Grill sits right across from the station.

The kids LOVE this place! A little train delivers the food to your table which my kids think is just the coolest thing ever.

Ah, to be a toddler again…

And, of course, we can’t pass up the $.25 horse ride.

We started doing this last year, at the suggestion of a friend of mine, because the local Polar Express train rides cost more than we want to pay for an outing. But my kids think that five minutes on any train is great fun.

Maybe in a few years we’ll take the train all the way to Chicago!

Dec 24: Polar Express movie

Since Christmas Eve fell on Monday, which is our weekly movie night, we all stayed up late to watch The Polar Express together while cuddling under a blanket in our Christmas pjs and munching on popcorn.

Dec 25: Christmas Day traditions

Each Christmas we have monkey bread and orange julius for breakfast. We open presents and then get together with family for Christmas dinner.

Maybe another day I’ll share how we made more mindful gift choices this year and tried very hard not to add to our clutter or blow our budget and still give our children a wonderful Christmas.


It’s the day after Christmas and I need a long nap to recover.



Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 16-21

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 16-21

This week has been busy…

Dec 16: Chocolate Pretzels for Neighbors

We decorated pretzel rods with chocolate using holiday themed molds.

Dec 17: Delivered Gifts to Neighbors

I wrapped up the pretzel rods and the kids and I distributed them to our closest neighbors [we don’t have many because we live in the woods].

Dec 18: Drive to see holiday light displays

I took the kids to see two residential light shows in our area.

Some of these people really go all out!

Dec 19: Puffy Paint snowmen

I mixed puffy paint using glue and shaving cream. The kids painted snowmen.

They turned out cute.

Theo’s is more like a melted snowman, which I think is awesome.

We also made snowmen cards for Eva’s preschool teachers. [I painted the snowmen and Evangeline added the accessories.]

Dec 20: Evangeline’s preschool holiday program

The class had prepared a short program with some holiday songs and rhymes. Evangeline did great, and any fears about her getting stage fright are long gone.

She gave us a gift that she has made in class and she and Brett did a craft together while I fed crackers and cheese to Theo and Josephine.

She also gave her gifts to her teachers.

I’m glad we were all able to attend the event. It’s only preschool – but it’s so special to Evangeline. And it was so darn cute!

Dec 21: Gingerbread houses with Auntie Paula

This year, all the cousins [who are local] got together to decorate gingerbread houses with Auntie Paula.

It was messy. It was chaotic. A LOT of candy was consumed, but a surprising amount also made it onto the houses.

This annual tradition is one of my favorites! Our Auntie Paula is just the greatest!

🍬 🍬 🍬

Only three days left before Christmas!!!!


Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 12-15

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 12-15

The Christmas fun continues!

Dec 12: Daisy’s 3rd Birthday Party

We don’t actually know Daisy’s birthday, but we picked her up two years ago on December 12th so I selected that as her unofficial birthday. Each year, we throw her a birthday party as part of our 25 Days of Christmas.

The kids helped me make her cake this year.

She always gets a homemade cake – which she devours in a matter of seconds.

We get cake too, of course.

Daisy is a good dog and we love her. She puts up with a lot, so she deserves some special treatment every once in a while.

Dec 13: Homemade Hot Cocoa

One of my favorite things about the cold weather is hot cocoa! And it’s so easy to make that I always make it myself [plus, I wouldn’t think of buying the boxes of individual hot chocolate packets].

We don’t typically make hot cocoa with all the extras – but this time we had marshmallows, chocolate chips, homemade whipped cream, and peppermint sticks.

Delicious! Especially being pregnant with no wine and limited coffee – I’m drinking plenty of hot chocolate this holiday season.

Dec 14: Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Yesterday, the kids and I made Christmas sugar cookies.

Dec 15: Santa and Carriage Ride

Today we went to Geneva and visited Santa.

Then we took a carriage ride through downtown.

The beautiful, sunny 45Β° weather was perfect!

I’m not certain what we’re doing tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to another warm day!


Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 8-11

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 8-11

The Christmas festivities have continued, but I was getting sick of posting every day [as I’m sure you all were as well].

Dec 8: Baking Christmas Cookies

On the 8th day of Christmas, the kids and I spent most of the day baking Christmas cookies for [spoiler alert] Brett’s work party that we were hosting the following day.

No Bakes:

The Grinch Crinkle Cookies:

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies:

Oreo Christmas Trees:

I had planned to do the standard cut out sugar cookies as well, but my feet hurt and I was tired after four hours, so we called it quits. [Hard to believe that two months ago I ran for four hours straight and now I can’t even stand in my kitchen for four hours…ahh, pregnant life.]

Dec 9: Christmas Party

On the 9th day of Christmas, we hosted Brett’s management team for a Christmas party. We spent most of the day cleaning [since I haven’t been doing much housework these days 😬] and prepping for dinner, but the kids were allowed to stay up extra late to meet the guests and join in part of the party.

Dec 10: Arthur Christmas Movie Night

On the 10th day of Christmas, the kids and I watched Arthur Christmas for our “Monday movie night.” We had popcorn and movie candy – which are rare treats in our home.

Dec 11: Anniversary / Christmas Crafts with Auntie Paula

On the 11th day of Christmas, Brett and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary by going to dinner and a movie. Our wonderful Auntie Paula came over to watch the kids and she brought Christmas crafts for them to do.

It’s been fun!

We are already prepping for tonight’s annual celebration! [More on that at a later date.]


Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 7

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 7

Tonight we went to the annual Geneva Christmas Walk.

It was SO COLD!

But this event only comes one night a year…and it is tradition!

[I’m usually not a fan of doing anything purely for the sake of tradition – but I suppose the Christmas season is an exception.]

So we bundled up the kids….

[And I mean bundled. Jo could barely move under all the layers.]

…and we headed to downtown Geneva to do the Christmas Walk thing – which is really just an excuse for most people to shop at the local shops and eat at the local restaurants. We don’t do any shopping though. We wade through the sea of people to countdown to the lighting of the big tree in front of city hall and we stand in unbelievably long lines for half an ounce of melted chocolate and a piece of freshly pulled candy cane.

For those three small things, it took one hour and forty five minutes.


We must be insane. This is what Christmas does to us.

But it was cool to watch them make candy canes in the Graham’s shop window and to eat them just after they were made – still warm!

And there were carolers on the street corners, and a living nativity, and Christmas lights on the trees, and Christmas music being blasted in the streets… all good Christmas cheer type of stuff that I love.

Last year, we waited forever to take the kids to see Santa, but after a potty emergency and all of us losing feeling in our faces and all of our digits, we decided to skip Santa this year and hightail it outta there! [We literally ran most of the way back to the car.]

I think next year we’re going to skip it unless it’s above 20Β°…maybe 30Β°.

Brrrr…I’m going to go sit by the fire and try to thaw…



Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 6

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 6

Tonight we took the kids ice skating.

Well, only the older two skated, but JoElle and I had fun watching and hanging out in the warming shelter. πŸ‘πŸ»

This is another one of our annual traditions and gets more enjoyable each year as the kids get older. However, it was really cold tonight and the kids can barely stand on their skates, let alone actually skate. So we only lasted about thirty minutes. But we still made fun memories.

That’s what it’s all about, right?

Afterwards, we always go to Noodles and Co to get warm cheesy noodles. [It’s the only way to bribe Brett into skating the kids around the whole time – way to take one for the team, babe!]

Good times!

β›Έ β›Έ β›Έ


Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 5

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 5

On a typical morning in our home, the kids have two options for breakfast: oatmeal or eggs. And the kids and I always choose oatmeal.

[What? It’s a super healthy breakfast!]

So you can imagine their excitement when we have Christmas tree waffles!

They were so excited that they fell asleep talking about it last night and woke up a full hour earlier than usual, begging for me to get up and make breakfast.

These waffles are a refined sugar rush complete with m&m’s, powdered sugar, AND syrup.

I have been known to make pancakes every once in a while and even bake cinnamon sugar donuts for breakfast on rare occasions [usually when we are out of oats], but Christmas tree waffles only come around once a year.

πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹

Today we also cut out paper snowflakes to hang on our windows.

They did really well considering Theo has never used scissors before in his life and I didn’t give either one of them a pattern of any kind. I just handed them the folded paper and let them go nuts.

I’m going to spray them with a glitter spray I have laying around and then hang them on the sliding door. [Now that we’ve finally taken down the gratitude tree, the door is looking very bare.] The snowflakes are perfect timing since the snow outside has all melted. ☹️

And the kids are already talking about our exciting plans for tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather is nice!🀞🏻