Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011 part one (December 16- December 25)

The two nice guys that changed my
flat tire for me and refused to take any money
for their help! 
 We left Raleigh around 1:00 PM on December 16th for the long drive back to Wisconsin.  I led the way and only took one wrong turn- LOL.  Mom and Steve followed in their van.  The first day was uneventful and we traveled for about eight hours.
After a great night's sleep at a hotel we were on the road again and cruising along for a few hours when I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed Steve had pulled to the side of the Interstate.  I pulled over about a half mile up the road and decided I'd take the next exit and circle around to see what happened.  As I was pulling back onto the Interstate I heard a loud sound and realized I had a flat tire!  I limped off the freeway and to the next exit, which happily was very close!  I pulled into a bar/restaurant and made a few phone calls. Mom and Steve had contacted a tow truck and we made plans for them to come to me in the two truck and then both go to get our cars fixed.  I pulled all the luggage out of the very full trunk and got my baby tire out... and then stood there wondering what to do next!  I didn't have to stand there alone for long though- two guys came over and offered their help.  They worked hard to get the lug nuts off my tire and put my baby tire on for me.  Meanwhile Brennan, Kate, and Zamboni watched from the backseat of the car.  I tried to give the two guys $20.00 for their help but they refused to take any money.  They were so nice!  By the time the two truck came I was ready to follow it to get our cars fixed.  Thank goodness for cell phones though- I don't think we would have found Mom and Steve without them!  I got a new tire and they got a new alternator... four hours later we were back on the road.  We were thankful that we could get both cars fixed and that it wasn't anything worse. 

Three dogs, two kids, and three adults
hanging out at Michel's Tires in Indiana.
Four hours later and a new tire and alternator
(and a little less money) and we were on the
road again. 

Staying entertained at Michel's Tires.

Hanging with the boys- Chris, Matt, and
Brennan in Aurora, IL.

We said goodbye to Mom and Steve near Chicago and traveled on to Aurora, Illinois, to stay with my best high school friend, Leah.  I was so happy to see Colleen and Tracy too!  We had a relaxing and fun night together!                                                                     
"Where's Kate?"

Kate and Brennan were super
excited about this tiny bit
of snow in Illinois!
 I left Aurora and headed to Madison, Wisconsin, on the 18th.  I wanted to stay one night with my friend, Britt, and her family and then headed across town to stay with Wendy, Dan, and Norman.    Madison was great and we got to spend a lot of time with Britt and her family as well as Norman and Wendy!  We always feel so blessed to have such great friends and family!

Dave was supposed to fly into Madison on the 22nd but got delayed leaving Raleigh which means he missed his connecting flight.  He found a flight to Minneapolis instead so I headed out to meet him there. 

Brennan and Kate were both so excited to get to Minnesota and see their cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents!

Ready to play outside... too
bad there wasn't much snow.

Three adorable princesses-
Kate, Alyssa, and Brielle.

Kate was so excited to have a sleepover
with Brielle!  We love her princess

Heading to Olbrich Gardens in
Madison, WI, with Norm and Wendy.

Fun times with Uncle Norman
(or as Kate calls him "Uncle Jorman")

Aunt Wendy and Kate have
matching hair!

Brennan with Usher and Mila the dogs.

Julianna and Kate

Jan and Kathy

Grandma Jan with her two

We had a great visit in Minneapolis and spent a lot of time with the cousins!  We enjoyed dinner out with everyone, shopping at the Mall of America, hanging at the house, going to Christmas Eve service, and spending Christmas Eve at the Rischmiller's house (Dave's sister and family).  Ted and Jan welcomed all four of our dogs and the six grandchildren (and all the noise) happily.  We had so much fun!

We did stop at the Passolt's house for a little bit too.  It's become a tradition to stop in and say hello during our stay in December.  Kate was very happy to play with their youngest, Phoebe. 

We left on the 25th to drive to Eagle River.  I was very happy to hand over my car keys to Dave and let him drive for a little bit.  LOL!
Kate and Sophia
Between all the cousins I
don't think Kate's feet
touched the floor very often!

Kate and Phoebe

Kate liked this big dog-
she thought it was like
a sheep.

Skating at the Depot in
Minneapolis.  Kate and I

Playing in the basement

Six grandchildren and four grand dogs
on the Ranheim side. (We missed
Brennan in this picture though.)

Zamboni was the most
mature dog there!  He
was a great traveler and
house guest at all the places
 we visited.  :-)

Ingrid, Erik, and  Muffy (their new

Santa ate the cookies, drank the milk,
 and  ate a little of his orange.

Santa came!  Kate
and Brennan slept until
9:00 AM though!

Kate and Grandpa Ranheim.
She called him into the room and
said, "Grandpa- I like you!"

It was down to just our family, Paul,  and Ted and Jan by Christmas morning.  We couldn't believe the kids slept until 9:00 AM!  They finally woke up to see if Santa had come! 

Fall days and getting ready for Christmas...

Having fun at Emma's
birthday party.

Emma had the cutest cake!

Happy birthday Emma!
We love you!

Feeding the ducks at Lake
Lynn.  After we were done
Kate commented, "I love
those rubber duckies!"
She is so cute!

Decorating our Christmas

Look what Julie grew in her
garden!  Here is Kate with
her classmates.

So cute!

After our wonderful Thanksgiving in Madison, Wisconsin, we drove back to Raleigh with my parents, Penny and Steve.  They stayed with us for three wonderful weeks!  Since we had our own personal Santa's helper staying with us, we took advantange and had some pictures taken.  Thank you Jenn for taking such great pictures for us!

We loved having them stay with us but the three weeks went way to fast!  We drove back to Wisconsin with them on December 16th for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fun at the waterpark

Our first flight- can you tell it is
only 5:45 AM?

A huge sweet roll for breakfast- YUM!

playing with Uncle Spyros-
or as Kate calls him Uncle
Meep Meep!

And he can still lift Brennan too!

We truly had so much to be thankful for this year! We were lucky enough to be able to use some travel vouchers and get three plane tickets to Wisconsin for the long Thanksgiving weekend. We felt bad about leaving Dave in Raleigh, but he understood that we wanted to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and other family. Luckily some good friends invited Dave over for a delicous meal and a fun afternoon. Dave was also happy to have some pretty good work days.

We left on Tuesday, November 22nd... at 5:45 AM! The kids were great travelers, especially considering how early it was! Kate couldn't wait to fly on a plane again! Both of our flights had pretty small planes with one seat on the aisle and then two seats across from it. I thought I'd sit with Kate and give Brennan his own space but he really wanted to sit with Kate!

They were very hungry by the time we landed in Milwaukee and we were all excited to see grandma and grandpa. After leaving the airport, we looked for a place for breakfast and found a GREAT restaurant! We all ate part of Brennan's huge sweetroll!

We traveled the rest of the way to Madison and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon visiting with family.

On Wednesday we decided to go to the Chula Vista Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells. We picked a perfect day to go because it wasn't very busy, the water was warm, and the waterslides were so much fun! We stayed most of the day and were exhausted when we left! Brennan barely stopped to rest all day and Kate went down the kid slide about fifty times or more! Both kids fell asleep on the ride home.

Our big Thanksgiving Feast was going to be on Saturday so we enjoyed a lazy morning and Brennan talked Aunt Wendy and Uncle Norman into fishing with him. They actually went a few times with him over the weekend and he was happy to catch a few small fish.

We went shopping in the afternoon at the few stores that were open. Late in the evening, I was able to talk Wendy and Dan into taking me out for some Black Friday shopping, which was really fun!

On Friday the whole family went for lunch at a great Chinese restaurant and then went shopping a little. It was great that we could all fit into mom and Steve's van! Being together meant so much to all of us.

Friday afternoon the cooking preparations began! Brennan, Wendy, and Norman were pretty much in the kitchen the entire time (except for sleeping) until the meal was served on Saturday at 1:00PM. Mom, Steve, Dan, and I took over Kate duty and cleaning duty. It was amazing how much food they made and how great everything looked. Wendy and Dan ended up with eighteen people for their meal! It was WONDERFUL!

We visited for awhile and then mom, Steve, the kids, and myself had to get on the road headed to Raleigh. We drove until about 10:00 PM on Saturday and then got on the road Sunday for the entire day. The kids were fantastic travelers and I relaxed the whole ride home since Steve insisted on driving the whole way. We were all happy to get home and see Dave and Zamboni.

Dinner for 18
 It was back to school for all of us on Monday morning, which came quite early. The best news was that mom and Steve were staying with us until we left for Wisconsin again on December 16th! We've never had them visit for so long and it was so much fun!