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This Week at the Brennans’

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A Christmas Edition of This Week at the Brennans’!

I am slowly taking more and more photos, getting back in the groove of documenting our lives….slash looking at my husband’s phone and stealing all the photos he took. Ha! I love looking back on these posts to see what we were up to when. It’s certainly been a nice and quiet holiday for us.

A couple of Sunday’s ago, we were able to travel to Hood River to have a holiday family dinner with Gordon’s family. He is the youngest of eight kids and six of them (including us) still live in Oregon which is a nice treat, especially around the holidays. My kids got to hang out with their cousins and play with their favorite dog, Coconut (who makes me think we could handle a dog because he is the sweetest, smallest, hypoallergenic parti yorkie ever.) Gordon might kill me if I came home with a dog, but my kids would call he a hero of epic proportions. ANYWAYS, we had a Mexican feast. My mother in law made my Carnitas and I made my mango salsa, but with pineapple and mexican street corn guacamole. It was delightful. After dinner, we played Cards Against Humanity (family edition) and swapped gifts for a white elephant.

family dinner
big group playing white elephant
At my in-laws house in Hood River doing white elephant for Christmas!
uncle and toddler looking at each other
Porter looking skeptical with his Uncle Nate.

A few weeks before Christmas, we hosted a Pie Party. What is a pie party, you ask? It’s basically a pie competition. Everyone coming brings a pie, everyone tastes all the pies and then we vote on our favorites. We had different categories for some different winners, but the overall winner was a peanut butter fudge pie. I made my key lime pie.

A few days after the pie party, I hosted a Lauren’s Latest Work Christmas Party. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have 4 people locally that I hire to help me keep up with the load that this business is. I try to spend as much time as I can with my kids and give minimal time to this business of mine which means I give any responsibilities I can to others. They work hard, so I wanted to have a little celebration. Lots of yummy food eaten and a fun time had by all.

Then the next night, Gordon and I went to his work Christmas party. (It was a busy week full of parties!) He works for a pretty small security consulting firm and it has been such a great fit for him. He works with really great guys and they sing his praises constantly, which is so nice to hear.

company christmas party
Gordon with his coworkers. He was the 2nd employee hired last May and already they are 7 strong!
mom dressed up in dress with toddler
My outfit for the Gordon’s work Christmas party

I actually sent out Christmas cards this year! AND they arrived before Christmas…except the ones that got sent to Canada. I don’t actually know if they showed up yet. Haha! I actually designed the card through Canva AND got it printed through them, too. They were so fast and the printing quality was amazing. I paid about $100 for 100 cards and envelops on the nicest paper they had and rushed the order. It was a steal. I will probably order cards from them every year now. They are amazing!

christmas card

The days leading up to Christmas, Brooke helped me make our traditional Christmas wreath. It’s the Christmas breakfast I grew up eating and its one of the only traditions we have. It takes several days to make and is labor intensive, so we only make it once a year. It’s so delicious though! You forget just how good it is until you have it again and then are reminded. (It’s like homemade croissant dough that is filled with an almond flavored filling and braided into a wreath.)

I was also working overtime, trying to post as many holiday recipes as I had planned. It was a lot and thankfully we had Porter scheduled to go to daycare a few days the week before Christmas so I could buckle down and get my work done. Then after the 23rd, I was mostly unavailable online because I wanted it to feel like a true holiday, just focusing on my family.

Once my ‘vacation’ started, I baked our favorite Sugar Cookies with Eddie and had a few friends come over to decorate. These are also things I don’t make frequently that you forget just how good they are! If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, I’d highly recommend it.

three friends decorating sugar cookies
mom and son smiling

Gordon had several days off between Christmas and New Years which was such a nice treat! I don’t even remember the last time he didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Probably back when we were in Idaho in 2016. So we celebrated Christmas alone, ate more than ever, slept, watched movies, played lots of games together and just sat by the fire. I was telling Gordon the other day that it’s been such a treat to just be together. The break and lack of responsibilities has been so wonderful.

Once Christmas came, I was able to take a big sigh of relief and enjoy the day. Big gifts included basketball hoop for Blake, a big fort building kit for Eddie and a tool set for Porter, safety glasses included. Brooke asked for a bunch of little things, like art supplies, makeup and exercise clothes, so that is what she got! I got Gordon a new wallet, a few Office based items like a Dwight Schrute bobble head and lots of chocolate. Scroll down for my favorite gift. Yes, it was a mug. It was a relaxing day that ended with us playing cards all together. Uno and The Oregon Trail.

family walking down stairs christmas morning
little boy with googles and drill
mom and daughter with homemade pastries
family on christmas morning eating breakfast
hand holding mug
family christmas dinner
Enjoying our Christmas Dinner together! Yes, Porter stayed in pajamas the whole day!

Right after Christmas, we got snow! Say what?! And not just a pitiful half inch. We got a good dumping that lasted a few days. It was almost perfect timing 🙂 My boys were thrilled…except for Porter. I took him out and he was very concerned. Nothing a little hot chocolate couldn’t fix. But look how pretty all that snow looks outside my beautiful kitchen window?

snow in backyard

Speaking of kitchen, here is an overdue kitchen update: we have counters and cabinets! Yay! Our appliances are all hooked up but still no backsplash. The company who is supposed to install them have come four separate times and haven’t been able to get the job done. But then the fifth time they came, they INSTALLED THE WRONG BACKSPLASH. Can you believe that? Our luck is just terrible. So the backsplash will allegedly get installed tomorrow, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Once the backsplash is there, we can add in floating shelves on either side and get that wall completely done. We have to also get holes drilled for some popup outlets in the counter tops, get some trim added to the doorway into the dining room and the window and have the ceiling patched. Gordon still needs to install the hood insert and add the trim kit for the fridge, but all minor things. It feels like a billion loose ends, but at least I’m not cooking in my laundry room anymore. Hallelujah.

renovated kitchen

A few days after Christmas is my birthday and man oh man was it a rough day. It started with me taking Porter to urgent care. He wasn’t feeling well, but the most concerning thing was his breathing. He was using a lot of accessory muscles to breathe and it seemed not normal. Definitely Darth Vader breathing. So, I called the pediatrician and they couldn’t see him soon enough, so I went to Urgent Care. After a quick visit there, they sent me to the Emergency Room. They thought he needed a breathing treatment which they couldn’t offer. So off we went to the ER.

We waited about 45 minutes in the waiting room before going into triage and then into a room. Naturally, they tested him for covid and it was negative. But then it became a bit of a puzzler. They sent in a respiratory therapist and she wasn’t was favorite human. She tried clearing out his nose and giving him a breathing treatment, but it kind of backfired because he screamed and cried for a full hour afterwards, making him even more stuffed up. Then I got the idea to ask for juice or crackers or really anything to see if that would keep him from crying. It worked and he finally calmed down enough for them to check him out again and check in with the pediatrician to see what else they could try. Anyways, for whatever reason, they hesitantly sent us home because he perked up with food even though his pulse was high and his breathing wasn’t resolved. I was given a list of things to do at home and then another list of “if these things happen, bring him back to the hospital”. Soooo, that was fun and stressful. After two days, he certainly was on the mend, but those two days while he was fighting this virus was rough. So, it wasn’t the best birthday, but Gordon did order me sushi when we got home, so that was a plus.

New Years was uneventful and we went to bed early and school started up a few days after that. So, while I love Christmas and the holidays in general, I love getting back into the swing of things with our regular schedule.

Here’s What’s Happening in the Next Few Weeks

Apparently our kitchen will get finished FINALLY. Again, I’ll believe it when I see it.

We are scheduling some work to be done on the beach house! Going from one remodel to the next, I tell ya. This one will be done by us, almost entirely, except for some exterior work (gutters, some deck work, replacing the front porch steps and replacing some siding with hardy board). We will all of the interior work. We also do have to do some work on the foundation which is scheduled to be completed over the next few days, but the previous owner paid for all of those upfront before we closed on the house, which is really so nice that we don’t have to pay for that because its quite pricey. We are hoping to have everything done by October so we can rent it out when we’re not there. We’ll see. That timeline can be flexible, if need be.

I’m taking my middle boys to get their first covid shots! I know the vaccine isn’t a quick fix, but its one level of protection I can at least give them to help.

I am canceling a trip Gordon and I have been planning for months to London and Paris. We thought by April/May 2022, things would be somewhat back to normal, but we just aren’t sure if international travel is worth the risk, incase we happen to get covid. So we are hoping to go somewhere domestically. I wanted a trip for just us, but we may end up taking the whole family…..somewhere. Ha! Maybe we’ll drive to Northern California or something. I don’t know where we’ll land, but we know Hawaii worked wonders for us, so we’re wanting warm and sunny.

Anyways, that’s it for now! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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16 Responses
  1. Jenna

    Oh wow. Shocked that you would give your children that terrible vaccine when it is such a mild illness for children. Truly thought you would be smarter than that!! Do your research!!

    1. Lauren

      Hi Jenna, I have done my research plus have a degree in Public Health. I feel confident in giving my children the vaccine, just like any other vaccine and understand all parents will choose what they think is right for their family. I think it would be beneficial if you took a step back and tried to respect people for making their own educated decisions, regardless of what those decisions are. Have a great day.

    2. Susan

      I enjoy reading your family updates! I’ve followed you since planning a trip to NYC years ago.
      I’m sorry that some feel that it’s ok to post demeaning comments about your personal choices.

  2. Karen

    I love all your pictures. The kids are all getting so big. Can I ask where you got your dress you wore to teh Christmas party. I love it

  3. Linda Student

    Your wonderful holiday experiences was very pleasant to read. Your children are really growing and getting cutier each day. I am always impressed how you accomplish everything.

    I love your receipes and look forward to trying so many of them. The coffee cake ring you posted looked delicious. Hope you enjoyed your holiday.

    Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

  4. Katie

    So glad to get this post – it’s always fun to see what’s going on with you and your beautiful family! It’s never boring in your household!

  5. Gina B

    Hi Lauren, Love all your pictures. I especially love the picture of you kitchen with the nice windows. I can’t believe how the kids have grown. I am happy to see all the activities and family visits. Love your blogs and keep it up. Also, love your recipes.

    Take care,
    Gina B

  6. John Brennan

    I just LOVE the picture of Porter eyeballing uncle Nathan. I just have to laugh each time isee it. I also love your kitchen. Your vision of what needed to happen there was right on.

  7. Courtney

    Glad you had a wonderful holiday, and got to take the time off to spend with the family. That is the true meaning of Christmas right? Happy belated birthday, stinks that is was spent at the ER and urgent care. Love how adorable your kids are, and the side eye Porter gave his uncle 🙂 A pie party sounds like a yummy way to spend an afternoon. Can’t wait to see the finishing touches on your kitchen, I feel ya on feeling on how you are so close and yet so far from being done with a project. Can’t wait to see the beach house renovations next!

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