Traditions [ New Years Eve ]

I'm big on traditions. 
And you?
We have many throughout the year and this ranks as one of my faves.

Every year since 2000, we head to our cousins [ Jeff and Cleary ] in Indiana, 
where we hang out for New Year's Eve and part of New Year's Day. 
It's the perfect way to break up the trip from Canada back to Chicago.

When the kids were little, we'd make two dinners. 
A kid-friendly version [ chicken nuggets, fries, pizza, bread/water ] and then could hardly wait until it was 6:30pm or something early crazy like that to tuck them all into bed 
so that we could have our grown up meal.

Steak, twice baked potatoes or some variation of deliciousness, salad, dessert. Wine.
The most important ingredient being 'children-in-bed-so-we're-off-duty.'

Often we'd play games around the table where the girls usually beat the boys. 
Isn't that ALWAYS the case when you divide into gender-based games? 
Girls rule. 
Boys drool.

We sit around and talk for hours. 
The boys play pool.
Or watch football.
Or wrestle on the floor because when they're together the junior high in them comes screaming out.
I think Cleary and I might have scrapbooked in the past 
[ or maybe I'm mixing up our weekends. ]
But mostly, we just visit and enjoy each other's company.

Cleary's one of my favorite girls on the planet. 
She knows me well. 
She loves me inspite of knowing me. 
She's a voice of reason when I bite off more than I can chew. 
She listens so well. 
She asks great questions. 
And then, three weeks later, she follows up with whatever it is we were talking about. 
She's an INCREDIBLE friend. 

She was my coach this past year during my running journey. 
She believed I could do it when I didn't think I could. 
We belly-laugh together. 
She inspires me with the way she's organized. 
She's the one that had the book Clean  
(you know, the detox book I talked about here )

So, my guess is I'll be calling to cuss her out on January 7th, 
when I'm starving and can't eat anything but rabbit food. 
I'll try not to cuss but I make no promises.

Anyway, you get the picture. 
There's never enough time with Cleary. 
[ And in case you're wondering how to pronounce her name. It's Clare ... and then eeee. ]

Liza (their doggie dog) is super fun. 
One of the only other dogs on the planet that I love.

Coco Butters is so darn cute. Oh mercy, I could eat her up.

Coco desperately wanted to go downstairs to play Gaga Ball with the dads and kids. She'd be dead if we let her so she pouted by the door.

Liza joined in on the pouting. AND, Liza is not a big dog so you get the picture as to how little wee Coco is?


Dogs are gross. Why do they do this? No manners AT ALL.

Coco's had enough. Bye-bye.
  Our hubs are hotties and first cousins, (Jack's dad and Jeff's mom are brother/sister) 
which basically means they grew up together and have all sorts of fun 'growing up' stories.

AND a side bonus for myself and Cleary -- they're great at playing with the kids. 
They're both GREAT dads. Our kids don't have any idea { yet } 
how fortunate they are to have their dads.

From the time our kids were little they've played many games, 
but to this day, two of the favorite games the kids love to play with the dads are
 "THE BALL GAME" {catchy, we know}  
and in more recent years, "GAGA BALL."

I finally grabbed my camera and caught the games in action. 
[ EVERY year I think I'm going to take all sorts of photos of our 
New Year's tradition and I never do. Not sure why. ]

Here's "THE BALL GAME" in action. 
Basically, they chase each other around the main floor and upstairs 
with a blown-up beach ball, trying to nail each other with the balls. 
The dads have no mercy.
The kids run terrified.
Lots of hoopin' and hollerin'


The dads hide and jump out on special sneak attack missions.

There is one 'home base' ... I didn't know that until this game. And you know why I didn't know that fact? The mommies are smart. They've made this a 'dads and kids ONLY game.' We don't wanna play. I guess that makes us party poopers but we're okay with that. Right, CJ?

Moms have very important jobs like holding pups so they're not trampled to death.

See. No mercy.

The gang post Ball Game.

The troops rallying in an effort to convince Uncle Jeff to play Gaga Ball. The troops win.

And, to the basement we go for "GAGA BALL"... 
The goal is to not let the ball hit you below the waist.
And apparently you can only use your hands to defend yourself.
Setter Boy, intent on winning.

I think Jackson cheats a fair bit, but the older kids generally let him get away with it. Not for too many more years, Buddy Bud.


Seems like Emma might be hitting a tennis ball. And while we're speaking of Emma, I'm gonna do a little "Aunt" bragging. This girl can RUN. Went to State Championships this year for cross country. She's our ticket to the Olympics some day. She better not forget me when she gets famous.


And THAT, my friends, is a wrap. They're all tuckered out.

And, as an added bonus, because the moms don't play such games, 
I thought I'd include a photo of CJ and me after my race. 

Because I love this photo of us. 
And, I didn't get a picture of Cleary and myself on New Year's Day.
And THAT was because -- well -- 
I looked like crap and there's no way I was gonna be photographed.
So there.

I hope you and yours have traditions that you're building on year after year.
If not, go grab some friends and start THIS year.

Happy New Year to all!


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