The || Catching Up to Speed || Edition

After an intentional and very much needed hiatus from blogging and the blogging world I figured a Friday post was as good as any to jump back into the saddle. A few weeks off was exactly what was needed to recharge and refresh. And, most importantly, almost every single minute of the last two and a half weeks was spent with family, soaking up time together that we aren't often allotted.

To efficiently sum up our time together, as well as our celebrations of the holidays I figured a little (I use "little" relatively) recap would be the best way to go about it.

1. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Our family of four spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, just us. We started the celebrations with Mass on Christmas Eve, followed by our tradition of opening two gifts, which are always new pajamas and a new ornament.
After we tucked the kids into bed Scott and I played Santa, which consisted of consumption of cookies and a lot less assembly of toys than the past few years.
Christmas Day was a flurry of wrapping paper, boxes, squeals of delight, and big smiles. Santa delivered, and the favored toys were a new skateboard for Marcus and a shopping cart for Julia. I didn't take a single photo of the festivities because I really just wanted to be present and savor the magic that the holidays have when it comes to kids.

2. Travel
The 26th brought a super early start filled with travel and relatively well behaved children, minus the one epic meltdown from Julia right before we boarded. 
During a quick stop in Vegas - where we didn't get off the plane - Marcus was invited to the cockpit. It was a toss-up as to who was more excited, Marcus or Scott and me, about this moment.
3. Iowa/Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's
We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's just in time for dinner. The next four days in Iowa were filled with lots of one-on-one time between the grandparents, Uncle Tyler, and the kiddos.
Most of our time was spent simply playing with grandma and grandpa, be it building trucks or tossing pool balls, the kids loved the attention they received. And Julia set about to explore all the nooks, crannies, and decorations that were within her reach.
At first Marcus was crushed that the ground wasn't blanketed in snow. However, both kids took great delight in the remaining snow piles, and several snowballs were formed and tossed. Grandpa was a great sport about being pegged with snowballs that were more ice than snow. This was Julia's first time experiencing snow, and she took to it immediately. I also have to note that after the first snowball was thrown Marcus declared that Grandma and Grandpa had a TON of snow.
And, no time spent at Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's is complete unless at least one quad ride is had.
To beat one of the colder Iowa days, we spent an afternoon bowling. Marcus has become pretty good at knocking down the pins, and rarely were the bumpers used by him. He may or may not have legitimately beaten me in game one. Julia had her first shot at rolling the ball. I did most of the leg work, but she seemed to enjoy pushing the ball once we got to the line. I had to laugh when we walked into the alley, not a single thing has changed in that place since I was in high school.

Our last Iowa adventure brought us to Des Moines to visit Uncle Tyler. And, I mean, when you see this wall how do you pass it and not stop? You don't.
We spent the afternoon feasting at Zombie Burger and spent some time at the science center where the kids were free to touch all the things and run amuck.

4. Kansas/Grandma and Grandpa Macke's
From Iowa we made the four hour trek to Grandma and Grandpa Macke's. We were quickly met with more Christmas gifts, and perhaps the best present of all, time with cousins! 
Words cannot express how amazing it was to send three rowdy boys off to play and entertain themselves for serious chunks of time.
The tradition of Christmas donuts continued with the help of a few very eager little boys.
"It's sure nice to have family."
When cousins weren't around Grandma and Grandpa helped make ice cream, push little toy cars, and grinned and bared every piano key that was banged. Marcus and Julia didn't not lack time or attention one single bit. At the end of each day I'm not sure who was more exhausted from all the fun and shenanigans.
We couldn't resist a trip to Union Station to see the holiday train exhibit with friends. I was impressed by how captivated both Marcus and Julia were with all the displays.
Of course I couldn't leave KC without a few walls for the photo collection.
The wall on the left is in the parking lot of one of our favorite BBQ joints.
The wall on the right we stumbled upon when we grabbed pizza one afternoon. The sweet little lady with me was a girl I mentored when she was in fourth grade - that was almost eight years ago!

As quickly as it began it all came to an end.
After our plane landed in LA (a flight I will not soon forget, as Julia cried for a solid two hours during the 3.5 hours we were trapped), and we were buckled in our vehicle and heading home we noticed Marcus looking very sad. It wasn't soon after we asked him if he was ok that he became a puddle of tears, telling us he didn't want to leave Grandma and Grandpa's, and that he wanted to go back. He was inconsolable for the 30 minute ride home. Talk about crushing. We've since convinced him there will be return trips that are equally as fun and full of love.
And just like that, in a blink, the holidays have come to a close... 2016 was pretty good, but I'm so excited for the fresh start of 2017!

Cheers to the weekend!


  1. I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was reading this. I'm so glad that you guys were able to visit with family. I'm glad you made it back to CA safely!

  2. What a perfect holiday! I'm so glad you had time just the four of you, but then were surrounded by family after that. So much fun and family was packed into the trip and I'd been feeling the same way Marcus was. Who am I kidding, I usually cry when we leave my parents. Ha ha!

  3. Aw, poor Marcus. It is sad to say goodbye to people you love! I love the train display in Union Station. I have not seen those walls! I was nearby the day you were there, over at City Market for a little while and then at Boulevard!

  4. Poor Marcus...so nice you can travel back frequently but I'm sure that's heartbreaking as a mom!

  5. A break is ALWAYS needed girl!!! Love these pics!

  6. Way to make the rounds, and during the holidays no doubt. Mad props mama, the trip looked like a blast.

  7. I think all of us were SO SAD about having to go home and leave Grammy and Pappy's house. I can totally relate to Marcus(and Julia, if I'm being honest)

    I LOVE the KC walls. I'll have to see if I can copy your pictures next time I'm up there :)

  8. What a wonderful (and full!) holiday you guys had! So glad you had a great time. But Im not going to lie- I missed your blogging :)

  9. Poor little buddy, that breaks my heart! So glad you all made it home to Iowa and KC, and then back home again to CA safe and sound. The holidays really are so special with kids and I have decided that I'm tired of the running and rushing on Christmas Day so next year (this year?) we are breaking Andy's parent's hearts and not going there for midday. I am so happy about this and so happy for my kids to get to relax and enjoy Cmas finally. Not that they mind rushing to the next place but I think they'll appreciate the calmer holiday and maybe having things spread out more. Now to have Andy tell his parents. Insert bug eyes emoji here. ;)

  10. What fun adventures you had!!! Glad you got to see a little snow and enjoy lots of family time!!

  11. Can I come with you next year if I promise not to tantrum on a plane?!

  12. Girlfriend you did it all when you were home! Impressive. And Marcus really pulled the heartstrings this trip, didn't he?

  13. Such a fun time!! Wyatt has gotten to where he gets sad when we leave family (or family leaves us), it's really a heartbreaker.

  14. Oh my poor Marcus!!! That is heart breaking! I mean, I know how much YOU didn't want to leave, and then to have to see him SO upset and crying too. Rip my heart out.
    I'm SO glad you guys had such a great trip this time!! I know it is so hard being here away from them, but you always pack in so much fun and love during your trips. I love seeing the recaps... hence my intense desire to go there with you one day!

  15. Oh man It looks like y'all had such an amazing trip. It has to be hard seeing Marcus so crushed. I know you guys really want to be where your heart is too. I just keep hoping and praying that it happens for y'all soon.

  16. Wait... you are telling me you spent 30 minutes with your kids? Maybe more?! ;-) So glad you all had the best time in Kansas. Hopefully you soon forget that flight with Julia so that it doesn't scare you away from future trips. And bless Marcus' sweet heart for it wanting to leave. Adorable and heart breaking.

  17. What a fun trip home for your family! I wanted to go back to KC for Christmas, but it wasn't meant to be this time. My kids feel the same as Marcus. They are starting to realize that we aren't near family, and they have made it clear they don't like it.