( I wanted to post this awhile ago but never got around to finishing it with school. So, this is all it will be ;) )
The week I spent in AZ was one for the books. I want to be able to remember it all, even the little things, so I figured I should write them all down on here to help me out! It is very rare that my entire family is all together, every last one of us, so I really soaked up my time with them at Christmas. Here are some of my favorite moments =)
* The drive. I love adventures with Trav and this all night drive was added to our list. I would do it all again minus the Red Bull's affect on my GI system. But I want to remember the excitement I felt all throughout the drive and the way Trav looked when he slept, either curled up on the window or reclined back with his mouth hanging open. ;)
* Waking up on Christmas morning. having kids around on Christmas makes me feel like a kid again myself! Trav and I slept on a pull out couch downstairs and I woke up from my 30 min nap to hear 9 munchkins up stairs, talking excitedly. I ran up to give them all a hug to be greeted with shouts of "Aunt Emma! Aunt Emma is here!" and than I should have braced myself for the stampede headed towards me but I let myself be tackled by my lil ones who aren't so little anymore!
* Santa. My mom and how she still keeps Christmas magic alive, even when we are older. I was headed in to grab some coffee to jump start the long day ahead but I remembered that I had left the piece of bread to keep my dad's cooking moist in the tin by his stocking. As i was walking over there my mom stopped me to say, " Emma, you can't go in there yet. What if Santa came?" Oh mom, I love you for these little things and one day I will thank you for making Christmas magical for my kids.
* My dad's face opening his Lebkuchen. My grandma used to always make these German spiced cookies for him at Christmastime. My sisters all remember eating them but I never knew my Grandma Kahler so I thought I would bring back her Christmas tradition. It's a week long process to make these and you don't even know if they will work at the end. Making the dough was hard without a Kitchenaid but I found joy in taking the time to make them, thinking about the memories it would bring back to my dad and how it would feel as if my Grandma was there. I prayed all week that they would be soft by the time we went to AZ. Seems silly to pray for cookies, I know. I left them in a tin with a note by his stocking and patiently ( well not so much) waited for him to open them. He read the note and looked confused, unsure of what the tin held. When he opened the tin this smile lit up on his face and he took a big smell of the spices. I knew right than all of his past Christmases with his mom were flooding through his memory and it made me want to cry. He gave me a look I will never forget and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I'm excited to begin carrying on her tradition.
* Togetherness. I found myself stepping back during all the commotion to take in my family together. To watch the surprised faces and hear the squeals from the kids, to see my parents grinning from ear to ear, watching my sisters chat away while ooing and ahhing over the kid's gift, and seeing my patient husband go back and forth between all of the kids excitedly helping them out. Family is special and I hold moments like this one dear to my heart.
* Maddie and Lexi opening their gift. These sweet nine year olds are at a tough age. They aren't teens but they aren't kids. They are conservative, sweet, and gentle. They still play with toys but they are growing out of them. We were stumped on what to give them for Christmas.They both wanted American girl dolls. Maddie wanted Felicity and Lexi wanted a look-a-like. Lyndsay's friend went to an estate sale where they has a brand new, never played with Felicity doll for half price. How could we not? I didn't even have to complete my sentence when asking Trav before he said yes. We found Lexi her look-a-like doll and I was giddy with excitement and anticipation for them to open the dolls on Christmas morning. They noticed the not so hidden doll boxes right away but didn't say anything. We took breaks throughout the morning for the kids to get snacks and the adults to catch our breath, so the girls would creep over standing right next to them and stare. Poor Trav asked Maddie if she had opened our gift yet and after she said no, he said," Oh, well I really hope they fit!" and walked away. I think I was just as excited for them to open the dolls as I knew they would be. Ryan saved them till the end and I had to keep from laughing at their faces when the packages were put in front of them. Immediate squeals were heard and I will never forget the smiles that lit up their faces. Lexi squeezed me so tight I thought I would suffocate and she whispered in my ear, " I can't believe it. Thank you , thank you, thank you!" Have I mentioned what a joy it is to be an aunt?!? There is nothing better than doing things and making some wishes come true for our dozen!
* Sassy Savi! One night we were watching a movie and she made a funny face at me and than shrugged her shoulders tossing her hands up in the air. She looked away and when she looked back I returned the face and gesture to her. Her response? She gave me this look and rolled her eyes! What?! How has my 4 year old niece mastered the "Kahler roll"?!?
* My boyfriend. A few months back Parker had declared that I was his girlfriend. He still thinks this is true. Kristel tried to tell him that Aunt Emma was taken by Uncle Trav already but Park thinks he still stands a chance. We were talking about Hudson's girlfriends one day and Sam piped in, "Yea but Parker said last night that Emma was his!" Ok Parkdog.....I'll be your girlfriend because you will need to be 30 before I consider approving a girl to be good enough to date you! :-)
* Babysitting. I haven't babysat in a very long time and I will admit I miss it! I miss planning things to do, making things with kids, and doing the bedtime routines. When I heard that my siblings were headed out on a date night I of course asked what the kids were doing. When I heard two teenagers had been hired to watch them I put my foot down and decided to stay in Gilbert another night. How could I not spend a whole night with just all the kids?!? Sounded like the perfect evening to me...and it was! Maddie and Lexi were "too big" to play outside with the little ones so they sat in the barstools chatting away with me while I made dinner. They helped by setting the table and getting drinks together all while the smaller ones played outback on the play set. I stood there at the stove and thought, " This is heaven. This is my dream. A house filled with children running around, playing , laughing and loving life while I prepare their meal." And man, do I want that so bad one day! We ast down for dinner and Mr. Samdog thought he would test to see what he could get away with. Before I knew it I had a table filled with tooters, burpers, and potty mouthed kids. I do try to be the cool aunt but I do have to draw the line somewhere, right? So, I gave them a whole minute to say or do whatever potty related they wanted to and after that there would be none. For the next minute I joined one noisy group who were burping, tooting, and thinking of every thing to say that involved "poop". After, Sam questioned what he needed to do if he had to toot. I told him to go into the other room so no one heard or smelled it! He than challenged me further by asking what would happen if he did it at the table. My reply: "No ice cream sundaes." His reply: " But it's you Emma. You're too nice to do that" Darnet, Sammy you caught me. Thankfully no one did so I didn't have to go against what I said! After dinner they all lined up with their bowls in age order for their sundaes. Again, I took a mental picture of what life might be like in 8 years and I was loving the way it could look! We watched a movie and they were given glow sticks for their sleepovers. What a perfect, perfect night!
* Snuggling. I love to snuggle the kids. It's going to break my heart when they are too old and too cool to snuggle their aunt. While watching a movie one night Tessa and Hud snuggled up on my lap. I held on to them a little tighter because they are getting older too fast and I want to cherish moments like those!
*Sister time. We decided that for Christmas this year we would do a mini-vacation all together! A night was booked at the resort and we were all excited! Ryan had spoiled us by treating us to pedicures at the resort. I don't think the two ladies knew what was coming when they called us back. Chatty Kathies when you get the four of us together.....plus a glass of Riesling for each! It was the most wonderful pedicure ever...and the funnest. I was crying from laughing so hard with them. We also found out that the Iowa Hawk Eye football team was staying at the hotel for the bowl game. Since Kris was born there it just seemed fitting that she would need to meet the team. We chickened out when we had the chance though. After our pedis we ventured over to Last Chance and hit the bargains! What deals we all found! After that was dinner at a mexican restaurant down the street and than a night filled with Lifetime movies....our guilty pleasure when we are all together. We sure our suckers for those movies! The next morning we went to Arizona Mills for some more shopping deals at the Nike Outlet, VS Semiannual sale, and more. It was the best 24 hours and the best Christmas present to have the 4 of us together. There is just nothing like having sisters!
* Slumber party at my parents. We all headed to Anthem for a sleepover at Mimi and Papa's house. My mom cooked dinner, the kids played, and it was great. My dad took us to their favorite yogurt place for dessert and treated us to a delicious treat! He was sweet with each of the kids, walking them one by one to fill their cups and choose their toppings. You could just see the look of pure joy on his face and the proud grandpa/dad he was! Afterwards we put on a movie for the kiddos. Maddie and Lexi were going to be allowed to stayed up late to watch "Night at the Museum" with us after. They felt pretty special to watch their first "big kid" movie! They were so cute giggling and laughing. We checked in on the younger ones to find that the boys room ( which also included miss Tessa) was pretty stinkin cute. Tessa had moved in her sleep so she was snuggled right up next to her big cousin. My sisters and I pulled out the sofa bed for our own slumber party. My dad will always be the same caring guy with his nightly routine. After running the dish washer, checking the door locks, and making sure everyone was settled, he came over to say goodnight to us and turn off the lights. It made it feel like it was finally their home.
*Waffles. What else made it feel like their home was waking up to the smell of my dad's homemade waffles! We were all outraged when we heard he had tossed his 30 year old waffle iron that was an icon in our family. My mom had bought him a new one for Christmas and I am so glad he tested it out while we were there! Nothing beats his waffles....or the delicious smell that wakes you up from a deep sleep with a growling tummy! Thank you Dad.....and please teach Trav your secret recipe! :-)
*High School Musical. I have been begging....and I mean BEGGING...Lyns and Lea to let Lexi and Maddie watch this with me for years. I understand the wait and I would have done the same with my girls but now they are on the verge of 5th grade so I thought I would try again. This time they said yes and we scheduled a girl movie night. I love how naive, innocent, and sweet these two are. They just love life, love their Jesus, and are growing into these beautiful young women. They giggled when they saw the basketball player's armpit hair. They giggled when Sharpay wore silly clothes and said crazy things. And they giggled when Troy and Gabriella flirted. At one point Troy ( Zac Efron) was singing on Gabriella's balcony. Lexi goes, " Mom, is it ok that I feel a little awkward right now?" :) Than later on Zac was sitting shirtless in the locker room for a pep talk and we hear Lexi go, " Uh oh, another one of those awkward moments again!" haha I love it. Could they be any sweeter. Needless to say we left them in their room giggling about "Troy" with their new saying of, "It's a bird, it's a plane.....it's Super Trroooyyyyy!" Lyns and Lea probably want to bust me for giving them their first crush! :-)
*Role Models. I've always looked up to my sisters. Having sisters who are 7/9/11 years older has been a blessing. Sometimes it's hard because they have always been in a different stage of life than me but I've learned to really appreciate that and be thankful for those years in between us. Having them all in the same place was wonderful. These ladies are my role models. They are strong, loving, passionate, caring, and Godly women who I strive to be like. I love watching them in "mom" mode and hope that I can be half as great of a mom as they are to their kids. ( I also try to make mental notes in my head of things they do as moms right now so when we have kids that age I can pull some of them out!). Hopefully we can get more sister trips going to the 4 of us can be together again!