Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Our Week - The One with Christmas, Sleepovers, and New Year’s Eve

Last week, we got in a great mixture of family time, downtime, productivity, and time with friends, and after a tough 2023, I’m heading into 2024 with open arms and a grateful heart.

Sunday, December 24

Sunday was Christmas Eve, so we slept in, had leftover donuts, and then we all snuggled up on the couch to watch a rare morning movie.  There’s a new Christmas movie out this year on Netflix called The Family Switch with Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, and we all loved it SO much.  The storyline was so cute, there were so many laugh-out-loud funny parts, and there were many nuggets from the 90’s sprinkled throughout the movie for all of you millennials like me!  It was the perfect family movie because we enjoyed it just as much as the kids did.  We highly recommend!

After the movie was over, Brian did all of the cookie baking, and this year instead of making his grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies, he also whipped up some peppermint cookies, and y’all – OH MY WORD – they were divine.  I will be sharing them here on the blog eventually, but I’ll probably be saving them for later in 2024 as the holidays are approaching again.  Stay tuned… for a while… haha.

While he did that, I got everything ready to take to my parents’ house later, I got a couple of things done around the house, and then it was time to eat lunch.  After lunch, I spent some time in my office finishing up a blog post, and then it was time to get ready for church.

We attended 4 PM Children’s Mass as we always do, and while that’s usually one of my favorite hours of the whole year, this year, there were a LOT of crying kids, so it wasn’t quite as magical as it usually is.  Haha.

After Mass, we swung by our favorite local Mexican restaurant to pick up cheese dip, salsa, and chips, and then we headed home to change clothes, grab Maui, and grab all of the gifts before heading to my parents’ house.

When we got there, I whipped up a batch of Winter White Cosmos for all of us while we worked on getting dinner ready.  Several years ago, we gave up our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of ham, sweet potato souffle, mac n cheese, etc. for White Chicken Chili because it had just gotten to be too much, especially since my mom always had to leave for church in the middle of all of the cooking.  We happily started doing White Chicken Chili with the chips and dips from our favorite Mexican restaurant in town a few years ago, and we haven’t looked back since then.  One day, I need to post my mom’s recipe because it is the GOAT.  It’s one of my favorite meals of all-time!


After dinner and a couple of glasses of wine, we got everything cleaned up, and then we made our way to the living room because Jacob and Olivia were more than ready to open gifts.  After our gift-opening, we cranked up Home Alone like we’ve done every year since I was little and we finished the evening with that, Brian’s cookies, some treats that Momma had made, Maui snuggles, and coffee.  It was a perfect evening.  The only thing missing was my brother, sister-in-law, and their kiddos.  They decided to stay home this year.  We also missed Mama Cass who was spending Christmas Eve with my aunt and uncle and cousins, since my cousins were in town.

We left Momma and Daddy’s a little after 10:30, and then we headed straight home to get the kids in bed.  They left Santa some cookies and milk, and then we got them in the bed.  B and I finished Christmas Vacation and started Die Hard, because we had a late night ahead of us.  ;o)


Monday, December 25

Monday morning, the kids woke us up at 7:15, which wasn’t too bad, but definitely earlier than we would normally be up on vacation.  ;o)  We headed straight downstairs to see what Santa brought, and then we opened gifts from each other.  The kids were so excited about all of their gifts… and Jacob has already learned Shape of You from his new Ed Sheeran piano book. 

Mid-morning, I made French toast, bacon, and fruit for breakfast, and Brian and I had mimosas.  I accidentally bought red champagne in all my haste at the store, so they looked a little murky once we added the OJ, but at least they tasted good!  Haha.

After breakfast, Jacob settled in to put together his new Lego sets, and I helped Olivia put together her various gifts – a foot spa and manicure set that we gave her – and then I helped both kids get their Amazon Echos set up in their bedrooms.  We bought each of them a children’s version so they can now ask Alexa to play all of the burp and fart noises that they want, and I don’t have to hear it!  Hahahaha.

In the early afternoon, I lay down on the couch to take my Christmas nap.  I’m not usually a nap person (unless it’s falling asleep on the couch at the end of the day), but on Christmas Day, I always lay down for a bit and rest and/or nap.  It’s one of my favorite things… one of life’s little luxuries that I rarely indulge in.

When I got up, we got the kids some lunch, and Brian and I had snacks since we were still pretty full from brunch. 

After lunch, I cleaned up the boxes and trash and recycling, and the kids continued to play with all of their new stuff.  I spent a few minutes in my office, and then I made pineapple casserole to take to my aunt and uncle’s for our big family get together later in the day.

We all loaded up just before 5 and we headed to my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Chris’s house to do dinner with my mom’s whole side of the family.  Every single person in the family was there except for my brother and his family, my cousin and her partner (because they had to be at a wedding), and my cousin who works for the Georgia football team… they had to practice Christmas Day.  So, we had… 41 people, I think?  Whew.  Brian’s dad always comes with us, and so does my Uncle Billy from my dad’s side of the family, so they were there, too.

The rest of the evening was spent eating and drinking and hanging out with all of them.  This was the same group that we’d gotten together with the previous Saturday for barbecue because my two cousins and my cousin’s partner were able to come that day.  My two cousins who live out west were able to come with their families this year, and it was so good to have all of them there.  My cousin, Zoe, has kids our kids’ exact ages (Jacob and Leo are only a couple of months apart and Olivia and Clara are about five months apart, and both sets are in the same grades), so they always love to play together when they come to town.

Towards the end of the night, Olivia asked if Clara could spend the night, so then Jacob and Leo wanted to spend the night, too, so we decided that the boys would stay at my aunt and uncle’s house and the girls would come home with us. 

We all said goodbye to Jacob, and then we loaded up and headed home with the girls in tow.  When we got home, the girls went up to Olivia’s room to play with some of her new stuff, and B and I started watching the movie Leave the World Behind on Netflix.  If you haven’t seen that one yet, check it out.  It’s a good one!

Since we’d gotten a late start (and had to pause 84 million times every time the girls came downstairs) we only got through a little more than half of it before it was time to go to bed.

We told the girls it was time to wind down around 11, and then around midnight they were still up, so Brian went in there and told them it was time to shut it down.  He said at that point, they already had the lights off and they were getting settled, but apparently after he and I went to sleep, they must’ve gotten back up because when I woke up in the morning just before 8, I went in the room to check on them and the lamp was on, Alexa was playing music, the bathroom lights were on, the door to the linen closet (where we keep all of the extra blankets) was open, but they were both sound asleep.  Lol.  Apparently, they’d slept all night with the light on and who knows what time they actually went to bed.  Lol.


Tuesday, December 26

Since I was the first one up, I headed downstairs and had a very productive hour before everyone else woke.  I got the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, I got the rest of the trash up from Christmas, I got the whole kitchen tidied, and I got ALL of the kids’ gifts stacked in a pile for each kid that they could clean up later.  The house was completely tidy aside from the stacks and that made me feel so much more at peace.  I can take the Christmas mess for one day, but on December 26, you better put up every single thing or it’s getting donated.  Hahahaha.

By the time I was done with that, everyone was up, so we had eggs and sausage for breakfast, and then I headed to my office to make a master to-do list for the week.  I like to have all of the Christmas décor down + the entire house cleaned and tidied before New Year’s Eve, and I had lots of blogging to catch up on + various other random tasks, so it felt good to sit down and do a massive brain dump and get it all out on paper.

After that was done, I got showered and ready, and then we loaded up the girls to take them back to my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Chris’s.  We hung out there for a short time, and then said our goodbyes.  Jacob had slept well and had a great time, so it was a successful sleepover on both accounts!

It was lunchtime when we left there, so we grabbed Chick-Fil-A and took it home.  My body was SCREAMING for something healthier after all of the crap food we’d been eating, so I grabbed grilled nuggets and the kale crunch and it hit the spot. 

After lunch, it was time to get stuff done.  The kids worked on putting away aaaallll their Christmas gifts, and I washed all of the sheets in the house, did a load of laundry, put my own gifts away, knocked out two blog posts, and I cleaned out and rearranged our glassware cabinet to make room for the champagne glasses B had bought for me.  The kids played outside for a long time at dusk because they hadn’t had the chance to get out since it rained all of Christmas Day and the day after.

Since I hadn’t had the chance to go grocery shopping, we had nothing in the house to cook, so we did a frozen pizza for dinner (along with some fruit to at least get in something healthy – haha), and then I made the meal plan and grocery list for the week ahead, watered the indoor plants, put the laundry away, took down the Christmas tree in our bedroom, and took the banister décor down. 

Once the kids were showered and ready for bed, we watched some of the Lego Masters Christmas special, and then we got them in the bed at 9 since we’d had soooo many super late nights in a row.

After they went to bed, B and I finished Leave the World Behind (I really enjoyed it), and then we started Single All the Way (a Netflix Christmas movie).


Wednesday, December 27

Wednesday, we all slept in again, and then we had eggs and sausage for breakfast.  After that, I headed to my office to work on the blog for a short time, and the kids watched some TV.  At 10, I got all bundled up and headed out for a very cold two-mile run, and then I got showered and ready for the day, and I helped Olivia pack for her sleepover that evening.

Just before noon, both kids and I headed out.  First up, we dropped Olivia at her friend, Maren’s, house.  They had a big day planned to go to a new-ish trampoline and adventure park in town and she was so excited. 

After that, Jacob and I headed to his friend, WJ’s, house to pick him up because he was staying with us for the night.  Both boys were hungry when we picked him up, so we headed straight to Chick-Fil-A (again – haha) (it was their choice) to pick up lunch, and then we took it home to eat. 

While we were out doing that, Brian had gone grocery shopping for everything that we needed for the next week + our New Year’s Eve get together that we hosted.

After lunch, the boys settled in with video games (what else?  Haha.) and I started taking down the Christmas decorations upstairs.  I put up so much each year (five Christmas trees!) so it takes me a long time to get it down.  I always start by taking down the trees in my bedroom and office, and then I move on to the kids’ bedrooms.  I leave the downstairs décor up for several days after Christmas, though, but I always have it down before New Year’s Eve because I like to start the new year off with a clean slate.  Yes, I know Epiphany is technically the end of the Christmas season, but again, I enjoy a fresh start for the new year. 

After I finished taking down all four trees, Brian and I took the boys to the local arcade they love, and we sat at a table and chatted while they played for a couple of hours.  While we were there, I got a video from Olivia’s friend’s dad of her climbing and repelling at the entertainment center they were at for the day.  I was so proud of her for trying that!  She’s never done anything like that before.

After the boys were done at the arcade, we headed back home and I finished boxing up the four upstairs Christmas trees, putting the last of the décor in the boxes, and vacuuming the rooms.  Then I headed downstairs to make dinner.

I had wanted to make something extra-healthy, but I wasn’t sure that Jacob’s friend liked what I had planned to cook, and I didn’t want him to have to suffer and eat something he didn’t like, so I kept it simple with macaroni and cheese and hot dogs… and then I steamed some broccoli and served some fresh blueberries with it so we could at least get in a veggie and a fruit.  Haha.  We’d been eating trash all week, so my body was at the point where it was screaming for vegetables.

After dinner, the boys played some more video games, and while they did that, I headed to my office with some hot cinnamon tea to work on my end-of-the-year blog post.  I work on it all year since it’s such a beast of a post (lots of references to old posts and linking and tallying – keeping track of all of the concerts and date nights, etc.), and even though I stayed on top of it for most of the year, it still took me two hours Wednesday night and FOUR MORE HOURS on Thursday to complete.  Whew.  You can see it here if you missed it.

Around 9, I headed downstairs, and Brian and finished the movie Single All the Way.  It was cute, and there were a couple of funny parts because Jennifer Coolidge is in it, but overall, it was way too Hallmark-y for me.  I don’t do Hallmark movies.  I like my movies to have a bit of an edge.  Haha.

The boys transitioned to Jacob’s room while we watched the movie, and they spent the rest of the night building a STEM set that WJ had brought.  Brian and I started watching the show Shelter on Amazon, and I wasn’t too impressed.


Thursday, December 28

Thursday morning, I was the first one up, so I headed downstairs to unload the dishwasher, and I went ahead and ate breakfast, and then headed to my office to work on some minor blog stuff for a few minutes. 

The boys were up at 9:30, so I made them some bacon and toast per their request, and then I got showered and ready for the day. 

Jacob and I took WJ home around 11, and then we headed back home.  I had texted Olivia’s friend’s dad to see if he wanted me to grab her while we were out, but he said that they were having a great time, and that Olivia could stay longer if we wanted her to.

We decided to let her stay, so we headed home, and I filmed an Instagram Reel.  After that, Brian, Jacob, and I ate lunch, and then I settled in my office to finish my end-of-the-year blog post.  I worked for four straight hours and finally got it DONE.  Whew.

B headed out around 3 to pick up Olivia, and she’d had the best time.  This was her first time spending the night out at Maren’s house, and she loved it.  Maren’s mom was out of town, so her dad took them to that entertainment center for hours, and then he took them to IHOP for dinner.  The girls had spent the rest of their time at the house trading Taylor Swift bracelets and making new ones, playing on the trampoline, and playing with Maren’s cats.  Olivia looooves a cat, but we can’t have them because Brian is allergic to them.  So her first sleepover there was a success!  Such a success, that she quickly passed out when she got home.  Bless.  Haha.

Maren’s mom (who I’ve gotten close with these last couple of years) called me and we chatted about the girls for a bit, and we went ahead and arranged for another sleepover this week so the girls can get together one more time before they go back to school.

After my blog post was wrapped up, it was time to head downstairs to cook, and I made a sheet pan sausage and veggies dinner, HEAVY on the veggies.  It was so nice to eat something healthy after eating terribly these last couple of weeks.  Brian did whip up Old Fashioneds for us, though.  ;o)

After dinner, I worked on getting all of the Christmas décor down in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom and getting it arranged in boxes.  I reorganized all of our décor into new boxes this year, so it took some time to get everything exactly the way I wanted it.

After that was done, I did a Bible study while Olivia showered and got ready for bed, and then we finished the Lego Masters Christmas special and then got the kids into bed a little after 9 so they could get a good night’s sleep after being up suuuuper late at their sleepovers.

B and I watched another episode of Shelter after that, and again, I was not impressed.  Ha!  Has anyone watched it?  I’d never heard of it prior to this, so I’m curious as to why I’ve never seen anyone mention it.


Friday, December 29

Friday morning, B had an appointment and an errand to run, so he was out the door by 8:45.  I had breakfast, unloaded the dishwasher, and started working in my office for a bit before the kids came straggling out of their rooms.  Jacob came out a little after 9 which is LATE for him, and I ended up waking Olivia at 10:10.  Lol.  My little girlfriend was exhausted from all of her sleepovers.

They got breakfast, and then I started taking down all of the Christmas décor in the living room (including the tree) and organizing all of the décor into the new boxes I’d bought at the beginning of the season.  Prior to this, we had two HUGE boxes that I couldn’t move by myself, so I always had to rely on B.  Now, everything is in small boxes broken down by room, so I’ll be able to move everything myself, and it’ll make decorating and taking down décor much easier since I decorate and undecorate over a handful of days. 

Once I got in the storage closet, I started rearranging some things, and of course, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was cleaning out all of our everyday home décor boxes and some other random stuff in there as well.  It was MUCH needed, and I got rid of so. much. stuff. 

Turning the boxes from horizontal against the wall to vertical against the wall also freed up room for us to put our new artificial tree in there.  I was worried we’d have no place to put it, but it now stands just to the left of all of these boxes.  It could not have fit more perfectly.  Now I just have to pray that all of the lights I hand-strung this year stay in place and look good next year when we put it back up.  EEK!

I got all of the holiday boxes re-labeled and now they’re color-coded, too, and it just makes my Type A, OCD heart soooo happy.  The only thing that would make me happier is if the boxes were all identical in shape.  Lol.  The Christmas boxes are all identical, but the others are all slightly different and that’s soooo annoying.  Haha.

While I was doing all of that, B took the kids to buy fireworks for New Year’s Eve, and when they got back, the kids played outside and then played video games for a bit.  I got showered and right back into lounge clothes, and then, it was time to make dinner. 

I’d had chicken going in the slow cooker all afternoon, so I shredded it, and served it with tortillas, cheese, salsa, and sour cream for tacos.  I had mine on a bed of baby spinach instead of a tortilla to get some greens, but I didn’t subject the rest of the family to that.  ;o)  I love it that way, though!

After dinner, we all loaded up in the car to go to one last place to look at Christmas lights.  There’s a house on the outskirts of town that does a huge light display to music.  It’s hard to get a good spot to watch during the Christmas season because it gets so packed, so we decided this year to wait and go after Christmas with the hope that it wouldn’t be as busy, and we were right!  We got a front row spot, and we ended up watching it for almost an hour.  The guy who lives there has a Facebook page, and he posts the show in order, and there are 48 different parts of the whole show, including a few University of Georgia songs.  We wanted to stick around and watch those, and we were able to see three of them before heading back home for the night.

When we got back home, we finally started watching The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge again with the kids.  We started it months ago, but stopped after the first episode due to busyness and other shows starting, so it was fun to pick it back up.  We all enjoy it… it’s a great show to watch as a family!

After the kids went to bed (Olivia slept in her magical fort  LOVE), B and I watched Missouri beat Ohio State (go SEC!), and then we headed to bed, too.

Saturday, December 30

Saturday morning, we started the day with homemade waffles and ESPN College GameDay, and then I got in a mixed cardio workout.  I took some time off from working out during the break (mostly because I was doing so much undecorating and housecleaning), so it felt good to get in an hour-long workout.  I’d wanted to run, but it was freezing Saturday, and it was still in the 30’s mid-morning.  My asthma doesn’t do well in the cold, so indoor mixed cardio was the way to go!  The kids didn’t mind the cold, though, because they ended up playing outside on their scooters for quite some time.

Saturday was deep cleaning day for the house, so I did three loads of laundry, wiped down the countertops, cleaned the toilets, dusted, vacuumed, and mopped.  I enlisted help from B and the kids, too, since it was so much, and B did most of the vacuuming while the kids deep cleaned their own bathroom, did their laundry, put it away, and tidied their stuff around the house.

Our nice vacuum died just before we were able to finish (yet another casualty of 2023 – haha), so after lunch, B headed to Walmart to grab a new one.  He did a bit of research before he left, and there happened to be a good Shark brand vacuum in stock at one of our Walmarts, so he was able to get one that will *hopefully* be a good one.

While he was out, he also dropped off all of my donation stuff that I’d cleaned out the day before… all of those boxes are FULL.  Bye bye bye!

While he was gone, I worked on cleaning up my office a bit… it has been a dumpster fire on and off for the last few weeks because of all of the incoming and outgoing gifts, projects, and school events, so I wanted to get some stuff put away.  I didn’t quite finish, but I made a good dent in it. 

By the time that was done, it was almost time for the Georgia game to start, so I got showered and back into lounge clothes, and then headed downstairs with a basket full of laundry to fold while I watched.  During commercial breaks, I tackled various other quick tasks, and then once I was done with all of that, I settled in at the kitchen table with my 2024 planner, some colored pens, and my 2023 planner, and I got my entire planner set up for the new year while I watched the game.  It always takes some time to do the initial prep work (filling in birthdays, anniversaries, extracurricular activities, upcoming appointments, days off from school, etc.) but it sets me up for a much more organized year.  I will always and forever LOVE my Daily Simplified Planner.  I’m on my sixth one!

Georgia ended up BLOWING OUT Florida State 63-3, and our guys looked incredible on the field.  These last two years have been amazing for our football team – 29 straight wins, back-to-back National Championships (including a blowout last year), a #1 ranking all season long (until we barely lost to Bama on December 1), 47 wins out of the last 49 games, and our win over Florida State broke the record for the largest margin of a bowl game win by any team ever… and that previous record was our own record when we beat TCU in the National Championship game last season.  Lol.  The fact that we weren’t chosen for the playoff this year is mind-blowing, but Kirby and our boys definitely showed the CFP committee that we deserved to be there.  I think I speak for all Georgia fans when I say that we’re all really excited about that 12-team playoff next year!!!!  Sure would have been nice to have that this year.  ;o)

During the game, we had Papa John’s delivered, and then I finished up with my planner after dinner while the game ended.

After the game, we watched another episode of The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge with the kids, and then Brian and I watched the movie You People on Netflix.  It was laugh-out-loud funny, and we both loved it.  It is very rated R for language so keep that in mind if you decide to watch.  But Eddie Murphy is a gem in that movie.  And so is Jonah Hill.


Sunday, December 31

Sunday, we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and then I watched the sermon I watch every Sunday morning, I did yoga, and I did two Bible studies.  By the time all of that was done, it was time to get ready to go to my MIL and step-FIL’s for lunch. 

They made a delicious spread of barbecue chicken, potatoes au gratin, broccoli, carrots, black eyed peas, and homemade biscuits, and then we had Christmas cookies for dessert. 

After the kids left the table to hang out, all of us adults had a very long, in-depth conversation about God and religion and our purpose in life, and it was food for my soul.  I thrive on deep connections and good conversations with others, and that was probably my favorite conversation I’ve had in a while.  It felt like such a blessing after all that I’ve been through in 2023 personally, and it was the best way to end the year.

We ended up staying there until nearly 3:30, and then after that, we swung by a friend’s house to drop off some jeans and Depends that I’d purchased for an elderly gentleman that our friend has taken in for a bit.  He has no family, and when our friend first met him, he was homeless, and she has been caring for him as much as she can these last few years.  She recently found out that he wasn’t being cared for properly at the facility he was living in, so we wanted to help out and get him some of the things he needed.  Stephanie, you are such a blessing to others, and you are such an inspiration to me!

After that, we headed home and I got some blog work done in my office for about an hour, and then it was time to prep for our New Year’s Eve get-together.  We had my parents, Brian’s dad, my littlest brother and two of his friends, and my Mama Cass over, and we had heavy appetizers to snack on all night.  My Momma made meatballs, taco dip, and pigs in a blanket, Brian did his guac, I made some pizza cupcakes (that didn’t turn out so well – LOL), and we had some fruit and desserts + various alcoholic beverages and a champagne toast at midnight.

On another note, the last sunset of 2023 was stunning.

Everyone arrived around 6:30 and we ate first.  After dinner, we all sat around and chatted for a bit, and then we headed outside to do fireworks.  It was COLD, so we didn’t stay out long – maybe 30 minutes – and then we headed back inside to the warmth of the house. 

When that was done, my brother and his friends took off, and the rest of us chatted some more around the table.  We still had 2.5 hours until midnight at that point, and all of us were starting to fade.  Haha.

To liven things up, we got out Apples to Apples, and we played that while we watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.  At 11:45, we ended the game (I WON!) and Brian popped the bubbly so we could get everything ready for our champagne toast.

At midnight, we all toasted to the new year – kids included with their disco ball cups, cookie, and brownie – LOL – and then everyone went home.  Brian and I got the kids in the bed around 12:30, and then he and I ended up chatting on the couch until 2 AM, finally falling into bed around 2:30.  Whew! 

I wasn’t sad to see 2023 go, but we ended it on a positive note, and I’m feeling really grateful for the upcoming year.   

Happy Tuesday, y’all!


  1. Looks like a great week. Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks so much, Stacy!! And thank you for letting me know! I'll add this one to my spreadsheet of Link Parties!

  3. I thought The Family Switch was super cute; but I'm the only one in our family that watched it. I am the same way about gifts about the day after Christmas and our decor never ever makes it up until NYE either; I like the house all clean and fresh... and I do in fact have colored tote with labels for each season and (for Christmas I have an extra label so I know which room of the house it goes in too!). It sounds like you had a wonderful and very productive week!

    1. That's so great! I love that you're so organized! And yes, we loved The Family Switch!


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