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The Year That Was || 2016

At the end of 2015 I prayed so hard for a smooth and easy 2016.  We had a run of years with some pretty awful things happening to us (loss of 2 pregnancies, my dad's farming accident) and we desperately needed a 'coasting' year.  Those prayers were answered and 2016 was a great, EASY year for us!  Here are a few highlights from the year that was.

For some reason all of my kiddos got older this year - how dare they! :)  In 2016 Aiden turned 10, Brennan 7, Tate 2, and Tenley 1.

Summer Vacation
We had a fun trip out to Omaha in July.  The zoo and water park were the highlights of the trip.  Bren said his favorite memory of 2016 was going down the pitch black water slide with Andy! :)

County Fair
Aiden had a great first year in 4H!  We were so proud of him and all the hard work he put into his sheep project!  It was a family project for sure and we have a lot of fond memories of working the sheep out on the farm.

The boys ended 4th and 1st grades and started 5th and 2nd this year!

Oh all the sports!  We had basketball, soccer, baseball, flag football and tackle football.  The boys played countless rounds of golf with Andy at the course.  Andy and Aiden did the Father/Son Basketball Camp at Iowa.  Andy and I went to an Iowa Football game with friends and took the boys to a couple Iowa Basketball games.  We watched too many hours of the Olympics to count.  Rooted on and cheered for the World Series Champs the Cubs (and became lifelong fans!).  Sports seem to rule when you have a house full of boys! :)

House Projects
We finished the basement bathroom - hooray!!!  And, after 5 years of wishing and hoping, we put in a huge picture window in the living room - hip hip hooray!!!

Potty Training
After the second attempt we finally got Tatie Tot potty trained!  Boy is that nice!

That's just a taste of all that went on for the McGuire's in 2016.  We were blessed beyond measure and pray that our 2017 is just as wonderful and smooth sailing.  I pray each and everyone of you have an easy and blessed 2017 as well.

Happy New Year!

The Winter's First Snowfall

A few week's ago southern Iowa received it's first measurable snowfall and boy were my kids happy! Tate was over the moon about getting out in the fluffy stuff, he'd live outside if I let him.

This was a wet snow, perfect for building snowmen and snowballs...and for rolling around in!

Not so much fun for scooping and snow blowing, though, because it's heavy! That didn't slow Tatie Tot down, though!

Look at those red cheeks!  He didn't care, though, he kept right on playing.

Since these pictures the snow has all melted, boo hoo!  I love a good snowstorm and inches of pretty white snow on the ground.  Fingers crossed for a WHITE January!

A Very Merry Christmas || 2016

Christmas is so fun and exciting and magical when you have kids to share it with!  This year Tate really 'got it'.  In a way it was like getting to experience Christmas for the first time all over again ... times 3 since I've had that experience myself and with each of the big boys.  I'm lucky enough to get to experience it one more time with Tenley, maybe next year!

Back at the beginning of the month we all went to a local tree farm and picked out the most gorgeous tree!  It was so much fun tromping around the farm looking for the one that was just right.  The boys were given candy canes by the owner and we all were offered some delicious hot chocolate for warming up.  We used Andy as a measuring tool to find a tree that was the perfect height but were pleasantly surprised by how wide the tree was when we got it into the house!  It sure turned out beautiful with all of our special ornaments on it!

We also put up our old fake tree and used that tree for hanging all of the kids' homemade and gifted ornaments on.  It turned out so great, I absolutely loved that tree!  Why didn't I get a picture of it?!?

Tenley stayed out of the trees and presents, for the most part. For some reason she fell in love with one particular gift that was a large square package. She pushed that present all over the living room and if we'd take it away and put it back under the tree she'd rush right over to get it out again. We finally left it up on the counter for a week.  One day I put it back under the tree during Tenley's nap but guess who noticed it right away?!?  Yep, back at it she went.  Ha ha, silly little girl!

We had a wonderful time visiting Santa a couple of weeks ago.  The afternoon we went it was snowing which added to the magic!  I was secretly  hoping Tenley would be scared of Santa and I'd finally get one of those epic pictures but nope, she was totally happy sitting on his lap.  Drat! :)  Instead I was able to snap some really sweet pictures of the whole group together.

And then, after Aiden, Brennan and Tenley went with Andy to put on coats I was able to capture this sweet moment.

Anytime we'd be out driving after dark we'd keep an eye out for Christmas lights. Tate loved pointing them out and oo-ing and aw-ing over them!

Christmas Eve was a wonderful evening.  The kids got all gussied up and we took a few pictures in front of the tree before we left the house.

We met my parents and sister's family at church for mass before heading out to my parent's house for supper.  Once our bellies were stuffed we did a quick clean up so we could get to the fun of opening presents.  There were shouts of excitement, tears of joy and general happiness all throughout the evening.

The tears of joy came when Tenley opened my old doll high chair.  I was so happy that she was given that special  gift.

Tenley surprised me by knowing right away how to unwrap her gifts!  She also caught on very quickly to oo-ing over evey single gift! :)  She wanted to pick up and rearrange everyone's stacks so had a bit of a challenge keeping her out of those but otherwise she never tried unwrapping anyone else's gifts. And Tate did such a great job being patient and waiting his turn - he never whined or asked to open anyone else's gifts. Such a big boy!

We finally arrived home a little after 10:00 that night and boy was I exhausted! But Santa still had to come and leave gifts so Andy and I watched TV for a little while to make sure the kids were all fast asleep.  Brennan had left out a couple of cookies and a mug of milk and I think this is the first year one of the boys has actually remembered to do this - they are always so tired from Christmas at my parent's house.  It made for a nice late snack. :)

Christmas morning Tate woke up with a nice croupy cough.  He fell back asleep in our bed and we had to actually wake him at 8:00!  It threw off our normal traditions of Santa presents and stockings before breakfast but that's ok, it was nice to eat first before opening any presents.

Santa was good to all the kids and the big boys were very excited about their new Lego sets!  We moved into the front room for gifts from me and Andy.

We tried to clean up a bit before heading out for lunch at Andy's parent's with his brother's family there, also.  Andy's mom had  knee replacement a couple weeks ago so we kept it simple and had sandwiches and dips for lunch.  We had a nice afternoon exchanging gifts and playing cards.

We ended the day by going to my Grandma's for supper.  She usually makes soups and everyone brings the sides.  We were so exhausted by this point and Tenley was ready for quiet so we ended the evening early and headed home.

After all of that fun all that was left to do was reminisce and put everything away!  The putting away of all the new things is one of my favorite parts about Christmas - am I nuts?  It's so fun looking over everything again and finding homes for everything.

And now we are left with the wonderful memories.  The decorations are all taken down and put away and the house is full of Legos, Nerf Guns, dollies and their accessories, Thomas trains and toys - not to mention all of the new pretty Pioneer Woman goodies I was given! :)  I love the bareness of the house after the decorations are down, it reminds me of the fresh start we given each and every new year.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Tenley's First Birthday Party

Saturday we celebrated Tenley's first birthday with our family.  I found the sweetest invitations on Etsy so we decided to go with a Princess theme.

Princess Tenley came dressed for the affair.  I bought an iron on transfer that said 'one' and put that on a plain white shirt. Then I made her tutu out of tulle and one of those stretchy crocheted headbands.  The crown headband was found on Etsy.  All of this went together to create her pink and gold color scheme.

Most of the guests heeded Princess Tenley's request to come dressed in their 'royal best' and we provided crowns and tiaras for everyone.  We had good sports and all wore their crowns!

I made lasagna roll ups, cheesey garlic bread and a lettuce salad for supper.  Easy and delicious, plus it was something I knew the Princess would and could eat. Of course for dessert we had birthday cake and ice cream.  I found the cake topper on Etsy also.

I decorated Princess Tenley's throne with a few balloons and a simple garland I made with tulle and ribbon.  It matched her tutu I made.

Tenley loved having 'Happy Birthday' sang to her!  We had been practicing singing to her for a couple days prior to her birthday so she wouldn't be overwhelmed by all of us singing at once.  Even with practicing over and over and over again for months I knew Tenley wouldn't be ready to blow out her candle - luckily she had a very capable big brother (Tate) to help her with that!

I think Tenley really liked her cake but she was quite the lady and kept the mess to minimum. :)

After eating cake it was present time!  Like all one year olds, Princess Tenley wasn't quite sure what to do with the gifts.  Tate showed her a few times how to unwrap or pull out the tissue paper from the bags to see what was inside.  She opened a gift from her Great Grandparents Maier first and was totally fixated on it! Trying to get her to open another gift was quite the challenge! She was smitten with the 'talking' book!  I was just fine with that, it showed how much she loved and appreciated the gift!

Finally we were able to move on to the next gift.  Again, fixated!  She really knows how to drag out the gift opening process, ha ha!

Tenley ended up receiving a tea set, a Leap Frog picnic basket, books, clothes, and my personal favorite - a Raggedy Ann doll. My niece was super sweet and gifted Tenley her old princess castle and fairy house!  What a sweetheart!

After that it was time to play with all of those new toys, read all those new books!

On Tenley's actual birthday we had our own little celebration here at home.  Andy insisted I make another cake so after supper we had more cake and ice cream.  We gave Tenley her gifts, she seemed to understand what was inside that pretty paper more this time!

Aiden, being the best big brother ever, gave Tenley a giant PINK teddy bear!  It's bigger than Tenley is!  He saw that pink bear the day we found out we were having a girl and knew he wanted to spend his own money on it for her.  He's been stashing it in his closet for months! Such a sweetheart!  And of course, Tenley loved it! She gave it a big kiss!

Tenley Louise, age 1.  Happy birthday, Pretty Girl!