Baby 4 is HERE!!!

I am lying here in this hospital bed with my heart utterly full of love.

This week has been less than comfortable, the 3 days leading up to this birth were full of pain and emotions. I was in the triage Wednesday night in horrible pain only to be sent home at 3am (great night of sleep, the 3 boys were raring to go as normal bright and early that morning), the pain followed up until Friday when I was induced. My emotions were holy insane. I cried at the dinner table over my fear of birth and just all my emotions over the labor. I have had great natural labors thus far and I am not sure what it was about this one that had me on edge. The fear factor was how long it would be, if you have been following me for awhile Jude, our third came within 45 minutes of my first pain. It was full force pain but so quick it was easy so this time I was very hesitant on what would happen. We were also inducing due to the fact that Jude was so quick, I wanted to be sure we had our other 3 kids covered and be able to make it to the hospital. So it was our choice to go into labor, that part of course is scary. The what if.  I was dreading laboring. Our 1st son was about a 10 hour labor from when waters broke then our second son was a 3 hour labor from waters breaking so I had my eyes wishfully set on a 4 hour number. I was freaking out all yesterday morning and even the minutes right up until my midwife broke my waters. The risky thing is that is labor does not progress you have the risk of pitocin and in my eyes pitocin is a slippery slope for someone wanting to go drug free, so that is always lingering. Luckily I know God was on my side through this labor, so here we go with the labor story.

I had been 3cm for the past 2 weeks, when we broke waters I was 3-4cm and the head was still semi higher up in my cervix. Well we broke waters around 230pm, the start was slow. VERY slow. I could feel the words pitocin in my mind. I was freaking out. We walked, rolled on the ball and tried to get things full force contractions. My doctor mentioned nipple stimulation. Not the fanciest of things to be doing to yourself but what the hell, if it meant no pitocin you better believe I will try it! Well it worked. Holy hell, a little too much. Back to more rolling on the ball and walking to get them stronger. I did not want to be checked too soon for changes in dilation because I did not want to be discouraged if I was not making progress, so I rocked out the nipple thing and moving and got contractions more steady, strong and timely. During this time my husband was entertaining me dancing like Shakira. I am not joking either, we have video. My sister in law was here the entire time so those two had me cracking up in between contractions, the nurses totally loved us. Speaking of contractions, I think 2-3 minutes apart finally. It was starting to get dark outside so I knew I was passing my 4 hour wish mark pretty darn quick. When she finally checked me I was at 6 but the head was still up higher. Then we got in the tub for a change of action. That warm water really helped me to gain strength and take real control. I think leading up to it the pain was so annoying and I was semi fighting the pain and my body. The water let me breath and accept the pain as part of the process. It also brought pressure in all areas down there. I stayed in the water for a good hour or so working through contractions until I got nervous about the pressure, so back to the bed we went. I was having horrible back pain with the pressure so I decided to be checked. I was at a 7, not as far as I wanted but I was fine with it, only 3 more centimeters to go.

Through the contractions I was literally saying Hail Mary's along with trying to breathe and it worked so freaking well. We decided half way through to switch the girls name to Catherine and I was actually going to switch the middle name to Marie for Mary because I know she was there through every pain. Anyways you will see we did not have to make a girl choice in name here soon....haha

The pain really started to suck, but I tried to keep telling myself it was temporary and every contraction was getting us closer. I moved as much as humanly possible to get in different positions to ease some pain. Jordan is such an amazing coach. He really is. Holding his hands was all I needed. This labor was totally different than others, I wanted silence, pure silence. Barely anyone talked. I had music lighting playing in the background and it was as peaceful as you could get.

Contractions got worse and worse and the pressure kept coming. She checked me again and I was 8-9 and we tried pushing a tad while she checked me but I just wasn't fully there. Talk about the most annoying thing in America. The worst pain ever and no where to go. Stuck. I forget when the topic came up but during contractions we realized all the women in the room had 3 boys. My midwife, me and the 2 nurses and ALL had stopped at 3 boys, it was so funny, but surely that funniness left the minute the next contraction roared its ugly head. The next part is a little blur but somehow I felt the real deal of pain and decided it was over. No more silent breathing to get my through, this baby needed OUT. AND FAST. She said I could push and boy did I push. It was full blown insanity the last few minutes. We got the mirror in position so I could watch and see where the head was and thankfully he came down pretty speedily. I think 3-4 pushes and he was crowning. Still so insane, I watched him come into the world. I watched Jordan's face full of excitement, so amazing, and heard him say "Oh honey, its a BOY!" I did not even care if it was a boy, girl or alien, I was so in love. They placed him on my chest and he opened his eyes instantly to me. He has hair, our first baby to actually have a good amount of hair. Our babies are typically bald, so any hair is good to me.

We welcomed Samuel Clarence into the world at 9:24 pm, he was 7lbs 6oz and 21 inches long. He was our second lightest baby but the longest thus far. He looks EXACTLY like Vincent, which is funny because I was hoping for another Vincent look alike because Luke and Jude are practically twins!! 

My sister in law took pictures of the whole labor and birth and I teared up scrolling through them, I am hoping to make a video montage of them at some point. Tomorrow I will be in full mama paparazzi mode but for now all we have is cell phone pics!:)
He has been a gem all night, latched on perfect too!!! Of course I have been staring at him all night while he sleeps, haha!! So there you have it, baby Sam's birth story in a nutshell. The pain sucked, no doubt about it but it was so worth it for the pure bliss of them laying him on my chest!! Thanks for all your amazing well wishes and prayers, you are all so FABULOUS!!! I felt so much love during the labor process from everyone. xoxo                                                                                                                     

How Many???

No for once I am not talking about how many kids we want.
Even though I think 4 could be it! haha!
I am talking about Christmas, and the gifts we give our kids and each other.

When I was growing up my parents divorced. Which means one thing for a kid.
MORE PRESENTS at the holidays and parents trying to out do each other at times.
I was just stuck in the middle, haha I say that like it bothered me but let's face it, I sadly loved every minute of the gift giving goodness from both sides of my family. It was like the freaking jack pot every year.
I would make a list for my dads side and my moms side, and somehow they never failed to have every present under the tree. I will say I was a tad spoiled. It was just me and my brother and of course he never wanted anything but video games so that left plenty of room for them to shower their only girl with gifts.

Gag me, it pains me to even say that.

When I look back I want to not only punch myself in the face but also tell my parents not to have showered me so heavily or given into my every wish for gifts. I will say it was not super out of control, there was always a limit but it was still more than any girl needed for Christmas. Especially when Christmas is NOT about me or any of us for that matter. Yet we shower and shower each other and our kids with gifts like there is no tomorrow.

I walk through the stores and see piled up carts of gifts out the wazoo and mothers being rude in check out lines or snarky to others looking for gifts. I was just buying wipes the other day and the tension in the store was so high I wanted to suffocate. Another reason why I am an online shopper. Bah Hum Bug is all I could think on these people's faces. I literally cannot handle going any where near the mall or shopping areas at Christmas. Everyone seems so bitter and crazy. This is not how it is supposed to be. There are people spending way more than they can afford, "because it's Christmas" is their excuse. "It's only once a year", "My son or daughter NEED this".  People are maxing out credit cards and for what?? I can't stand the excuses. In my eyes you should not be buying something just because. Christmas is about Christ, about Jesus, about the birth of Jesus and to reflect on what we have, our family, our life. The gift of life and love. That is what it is about in my eyes.

I never grew up very religious so obviously Christmas to me was just a gift giving holiday and Jesus's birthday, but my eyes were more on the gifts. I don't want that for my kids. I don't want that at all. I see the spoiled mess of teenagers and adults that mindset has created. Luckily for me my parents still made me work hard and have jobs to teach me responsibility but some children are just catered to every day of the year.

Vincent's first Christmas he was showered with more gifts than one can imagine, Jordan and I both come from divorced parents so you see how quickly the gifts can multiply and add up. At first I was okay with the whole spoiling my son, because I was so in love with him that I wanted him to have it all. I mean duh, he was one, he needed it all. IDIOT, IDIOT, IDIOT (palm to face). Vincent was 8 months old at the time, homeboy had no idea what day it even was, let alone what all these "gifts" were. I am pretty sure he just played with the wrapping paper and boxes and cried a little. He probably cried because he was overwhelmed by the madness that Christmas has become.
I think back to each of my kids births, the pure bliss that comes in the moments they enter the world (insert teary eyes because I am hormonal) and it's the kind of joy you can't ever BUY. It is happiness to the highest and it's all about the love we share with those moments. No one is unwrapping boxes in the delivery room, no one is making long drawn out lists of what they "need", its true raw love. It's loving the gift of life that God has given us. Family, and sharing a beautiful moment together. I just think that is how Christmas should be. Family, spending precious moments together, not worrying about what's hidden inside the box. Real love is shown through actions, not gifts. 

I was talking with a mom at the boys school book fair a few months ago and somehow we got on the topic of gift giving and birthdays and Christmas and how outrageous it has become. She said it magically, she said I cannot stand "the exchange of money", that is all it is. You are pretty much exchanging money with people. My brother and I exchanged gifts for a few years. I would tell him what I wanted and he would tell me what he wanted and we would buy and exchange. There was literally not much meaning behind it, it was more a "here is what you wanted" and vice versa. How MAGICAL is that?? It's just silly. Silly. Silly. Silly.

For our boys we buy one gift, and the funny thing is we had a hard time even thinking of one for Vincent and Jude. I let Vincent look through a toy ad and of course he said he wanted every thing, not even KNOWING what the heck some of the things were. I am pretty sure he said he wanted a trash can also. Obviously if you show your kids a ton of toys they will say they want them all. I love my kids, I really do but there is no way in God's green earth that I will ever give into their "wants". We have to know hands down that they will need and want the item or else it's not worth buying because guess what, it goes unused and just gets donated. After a month or so we finally pin pointed an item for each that they will LOVE. I think we spent a rocking $75 on all 3 and they will LOVE the things we got. When they get older, we will do one gift each kid and then also a family gift that they can all use together. But from us you will only see one gift for each kid under the tree.

As far as grandparents go I seriously try to regulate the gifts. Mainly because I want their gifts to be used and cherished and not just thrown to collect dust in the toyroom. I try to coordinate them so they can all get the most bang for the buck and most play. I found this stand from Land of Nod that I knew would get tons of use over the years. Instead of my parents buying each kid a gift they got this one. Then I let the other grandparents know and we coordinated things to go with the stand, like puppets and a cash register and grocery items. Therefore, we limit the number of gifts and they have tons of possibilities all stemming from one stand. I feel like grouping toys and items together helps. The toys the boys always end up playing with are ones that are alike. So like Thomas the train sets, kitchen and food and Imaginext toys, if they are random odds and ends they get pushed to the side and forgotten about.

I guess that is just my two cents for the holidays and the craziness of gift giving. Focusing on spending time with our loved ones and EATING yummy food is what it's all about. We are doing all the days of advent along with Elf on the Shelf and are having so much fun with all the fun activities, way cooler than gifts in my eyes! We have made cookies, decorated the tree, dressed the dog as a reindeer, made homemade ornaments, made hot cocoa and had fun as a family creating memories. 
You may wonder if Jordan and I exchange gifts and I think you can guess, we don't. If Jordan ever wants something he just buys it on Amazon without even blinking and same goes for me.We do try to take a vacation and weekend trip alone during the year so that is a huge gift in itself. But other than that this family is very minimal on the gifts.

I will add, the one thing we do yearly, that I love and that has little cost is we make our families a calendar on Shutterfly. We give them to our parents and grandparents and they LOVE them. Its something useful and needed every year and they are FILLED with pictures of the boys and our family. It's like a scrapbook and calendar in one. Hands down the best gift. Jordan heard about this idea on the radio and we will never stop giving these bad boys out as a gift. It's meaningful and used every day by our loved ones.

There you have it, a lot of people wonder why we do our gifts the way we do and there it is. I am not offended by the way others do it. Each family is different and has different ways they celebrate holidays, same with any other holiday, we are all different! 

I am excited to give the boys a huge gift this week of their new sibling, that is the ultimate thing they wanted so I am so excited to introduce them to him or her in a few days!!! 

Merry Christmas friends! 

BEST Cutout Cookies...

I have always wanted a go-to recipe to use every year as cut out cookies.
I tried a few years back to find one and didn't find the perfect one.
So with my "nesting" for my last week of pregnancy it was a must to find that darn recipe.
I seeked out facebook friends and of course pinterest!
Jordan and I decided that the best cut outs are thick, soft with lots of fluffy icing.
I picked 4 recipes to try and made half a batch of each then compared.
My kitchen looked like a train wreck, seriously.
All of them turned out thick and soft because I rolled the dough thicker and always bake the lowest time, always, that is totally the secret to soft cookies. Never fails.
Jordan tried to bring his baking "expertise" in and tell me they looked under baked when I pulled them out of the oven and they are perfect, they always set up just right, I swear if you take them out later and they look perfect they always harden up, so as long as they are coming off the sheet with a spatula you are good to go! Jordan is the master griller, so he needs to leave the baking up to me!:)
It was enjoyable to try all of them, obviously, says the lady about to give birth in a few days.
But there was ONE winner that has stolen my heart for our new family go to recipe for cut outs.
I found it on pinterest, Cream Cheese cut out cookies!

Here is the recipe as well. Very easy.
1 cup butter
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder

There was something about these ones that just was RIGHT on the money.
I made two frostings, very basic, one cream cheese and one buttercream and didn't fully love either, so in true Allie fashion I made my own mixture with both and it was PERFECT! The cream cheese frosting alone did not taste like what goes on a sugar cookie. It was more for a carrot cake. The buttercream was good but just needed a little something to kick it up a notch!
Cut Out Frosting
3/4 cup butter
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 TBS Heavy Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
3-4 oz cream cheese (varies to what you like)
So there you have it.
This is from my search high and low of the best cut out recipe.
Hopefully you will agree when you make them.
If not check my "Yum Yum" board and see the others I also tried.
Happy Baking Friends....
And in baby baking news....Baby #4 will be here Friday!:):):):):)

Fall pics...

This year I completely slacked and didn't get any fall family pics done.
It might have a lot to do with the fact that I was busy as all get out every weekend with taking my clients pictures, but man I love capturing their families and kiddos so its an even trade.
 We had pictures done on vacation in July and if you know my husband or MOST husbands you only get one shot at family pictures per calendar year!! haha 

Anyways, I needed some new shots of the boys so I just ran them outside and took a few of each. Sadly Jude was sleeping when I did Vincent and Luke's but I just made cards with 3-4 pics so I could mix and match the pics. Here are a few of my favorites.
I could not get a smile from Jude at all. You would think that I tortured the kid by the next picture. We were outside MAYBE 5 minutes. Oye. 
Luke did by far the best. My little ham! 
Then the two best buds. 
Vincent was not offering up very many GENUINE smiles but we will work with it! 
So there you have it, our fall pics in a nutshell. Took a good 20 minutes all together to knock these out.
Next year I am streamlining my photography business and shooting less so hopefully I can fit in our own fall pictures, I already know exactly what I want us to wear and be doing in the pics. Yes, I am crazy haha!
Happy Fall....almost winter! :)

DIY Giant Moss Letters

I needed something festive for above the fireplace and I love the look of moss letters.
We had a few big cardboard boxes laying around so I decided to try to make my own.
It ended up being super easy! 
You will need:
Glue Gun, lots of glue sticks
Sheets of Moss (Hobby Lobby)
 I just free handed the letters, it doesn't matter how sloppy it looks because you are going to cover it with the moss. So draw as messy as you like. 
 Cut the moss and glue, glue, glue!!! Let it overlay and then wrap it around the edges and glue MORE. 
It won't look so hot on the back but no one will see it.
Finished product. They are indeed very messy to make but I love the look of them!
I think I will make more, maybe do our family monogram and make a larger D in the center with a smaller A & J to the outsides. It was definetely easy enough to want to do it again.

Hanging below is the DIY Advent Calendar I made for the kids this year. Holy DIY magic around here, aka my pregnancy nesting gave me some crafting nesting skills! haha!

The Name Game....

I must say this is the first time that we have went into this without a for sure name.
We have always had the name picked out months in advance.
I think it must be because we do not know the gender that the name is still up in the air.
Early on we had decided on William and Charlotte.
Gosh to be 17 weeks and not as huge again. hahaha.
Anyways we were set on those 2 names until recently.

We have always picked strong names and tried to keep it in the family. 
This time is no different. We chose William, my great grandfathers name and Charlotte my great aunts name.
But something happened with William, you know how a name can be ruined by one bad egg, well that is kinda sorta what happened. Let's just say Jordan referred to someone with the name he knows and it truly tainted it for us. I hate when you hear a name and get a bad taste so right now William is not on the top of my list, Jordan still loves it but I just cant not think of that person, darn them!!!

Charlotte is still my fave. Charlotte Rose. I love it and everything about it. It is after my great aunt who was hands down the coolest person alive. She had red hair and was a complete southern spit fire. Rose is also a family name from Jordan's grandmother's side so our girl name is pretty rock solid. BUT Jordan walked in the other night saying he really liked Catherine. I love the name too and know the MOST amazing girl named Catherine so I am honestly fine with either Charlotte or Catherine at the moment but more leaning towards Charlotte.

The other boy name that is floating around is Samuel. Samuel is also a family name, my great great grandfathers. So right now going into the home stretch we are between William and Samuel for a boy. I have never known a bad Samuel so that is why I am obsessed with the name. It's funny because Jordan loves William but I love Samuel. The middle name we have chosen at the moment is Clarence, a family name from Jordan's grandmother's side. Its such an old school name and I love it. My mom knew the sweetest older man with the name Clarence and I always remember her talking so fondly of him, so I am good with our middle name for a boy.

In a few short weeks you will be meeting....
I also included the first name meaning under..

William Clarence or Samuel Clarence
(will, desire)                         (name of God)
Charlotte Rose or Catherine Rose
(tiny, feminine)                           (innocent)

Obviously Samuel dominates all the names. Baller.

PS I totally think it's another boy. I think we are totally good at raising the madness that is boys. I honestly think I will be a tad overwhelmed by a girl after 4 years of boy. Obviously I would GO CRAZY over all the pink and clothing but I just have a gut feeling we are destined to have all boys. If that is the case you better believe I am raising them to pick the most fabulous daughter in laws. Which most of these marriages have already been arranged with friends and bloggers. We know what's best for them, right? 
That or we will need them to be priests. Either or.
So my mind is set going into this that Jordan will announce "It's a BOY!" and holy smokes if he doesn't say that I will probably pass out on the table! A few short, short weeks my friends.

Which names do you like best??

37 Weeks

I am still in shock we are at 37 weeks. It felt like this pregnancy was dragging around week 30 and then BAM, here we are, weeks away from meeting our newest blessing. So surreal. Having this baby mixed in with the holidays is sheer insanity! Lots more planning to get done and make happen. 
The baby will be here Dec 13 or 14 whether he/she likes it or not! haha! I am so excited to have an actual date to plan for. We are choosing to induce because of how quickly Jude arrived. He came in less than 45 minutes of my first real pain. We barely made it to the hospital, so having enough time to make it is very important. If it were just Jordan and I this would be so much easier but with 3 other kids a sudden labor like that is not so easy. We have to orchestrate a whole game plan and have people here. I really pray he or she doesn't come sooner or else I may be the woman giving birth on the side of the road. Eeeek. Better safe than sorry. Also this is not my first rodeo with "induction", Vincent and Luke were also induced, by induced I mean breaking waters. That is all the interventions we have ever had thankfully. I really pray the same happens with this labor. So much stress thinking about the what-ifs for delivery. Trying to stay positive.

Anyways enough about that. Onto the 37 week stats!
 Yes, I swallowed a watermelon haha. I think the white shirt makes me look even bigger! 
How far along are you? 
37 weeks

Total weight gain: 
33 lbs. Woops :) 

How big is baby?:  
Over 6lbs and around 19 inches. 

Maternity clothes: 
Still not happening thanks to the jeggings, sorry to you all who may hate seeing pregnant women in jeggings, the only comfortable thing! 

Stretch marks?:  
No more than before! 

Yeah right. 
Best moment this week?:
I got to meet my nephew. It got me all excited for all the wonderfulness of newborns!! 

TONS, mostly some giant kicks and punches, probably trying to break out! 

Food cravings?:
The normal nothing good for me. Panera's Fontina grilled cheese and tomato soup top the list at the moment, then all the desserts that are to come for the holidays. 

Food aversions?:
Not really 

Labor signs?: 
I am 2cm dilated, and the baby is getting nice and low!
Just the wonderful feeling of the baby falling out of me.
Braxton Hicks.

Belly button in or out?: 
Still in, it has never popped 

What I miss: 
My normal sized clothing, so excited to get back to normal Allie size! 

What I'm looking forward to: 
Snuggling our new bear! 

What I'm not looking forward to: 
Delivery, OUCH, OUCH, OUCH....
and after labor when they push on your belly to get rid of the clots, 
hands down worst thing ever. I cannot stand it. Grosssssssss. 

Still up in the air. As is the name (post to come)
We had decided on Charlotte and William early on but not too sure now.
This is the first time we have not had the exact name picked out.
It's so weird. haha.

So there you have it! 37 weekeroos!
2cm down, only 8 to go!!! Praying to dilate as much as possible before we induce!

DIY Hanging Advent Calendar & Activities List

I have been wanting to to a Advent chart or something similar but I have never found one that I absolutely love and when I do find something cute it's small or not exactly what I envisioned. The best way to get something you want is to make it! I have seen the hanging advent bags and knew that was what I wanted. It was seriously so easy. The only thing I wish I would have done different is a different colored bag. It looks too much like the color of the wall. Or maybe we need to paint the walls. Ah, whatever the case, I still love it and how it turned out. I know the boys will love it!
All you need is:
25 Bags (I chose 5x7 canvas bags)
Red Paint
Paint Brush
Number Stencils
 Pretty self explanatory. Place the stencil and paint away.
Inside the bags I was going to put trinkets and items to explain the activities but there is no way the bags would stay up on the wall. I am going to print out the daily activities on card stock and place the card inside.

Here is the list of activities I came up with for the cards.
Here is what it looks like on the wall. This room has barely been touched since we moved in so it is kind of blah, I made the giant JOY letters out of moss, I have a little DIY on that to come soon!!! It still looks small compared to the room. I still think we need a mantle or something, the fireplace is just not doing it for me. 
Now to print off the activities and follow through with them!! haha!!!
A tad nerve wracking with the baby coming at any moment! 
I am going to try my best to make these all happen!! 
Wish me luck!!!

Avoid the Holiday Drama...

Are holidays a tad stressful for you with fitting everyone in and making everyone happy??
Funny Mike's holiday Ecard: Let's shake things up over the holidays by not constantly complaining about the holidays.
Jordan and I have both sets of parents divorced so have the ultimate hurdle to hop through on making it to all the holiday events and trying to fit it all in, while fitting in the needs of our children.

Before we had kids it would not phase us to just jump in the car and run here and there and everywhere, we could cover so much ground and didn't mind doing so. But throw in 1, 2, 3 and now 4 kids and things get trickier. We have learned a few things through the years and now the holidays are a breeze for us and also I think we do a good job of trying to get all our visits in! Here are a few tips to making the holidays not so stressful.

Holiday DATES.
This is one that I really do not get. I understand Thanksgiving is on a Thursday and Christmas is always the 25th, BUT, will it really make your time less important if you celebrate on a Friday or Saturday near those holidays? If your answer is yes, no offense you may need to rethink some things. Holidays are about spending time together with your loved ones, no matter how many hours or which date the calendar reads. We celebrate whenever we can, shoot I think we may even be celebrating "Christmas" with my parents when they are here when baby #4 arrives. And guess what, that is amazing to me. Having my parents here with our family and celebrating the love we all share and a good meal. Nothing gets better than that, no date or day of the week can change that. Therefore look at the calender and talk about other dates that may work other than the actual holiday date for you and your family to celebrate.

This doesn't just go for you and your husband, although that is the most important but also for your extended family. Switch off years for holidays if people are not willing to switch dates. Host the holiday at your house and invite both sides and knock it all out. I know this can be tricky with divorced families but for Easter we invite everyone, all our sets of parents and just go with it. It has yet to end with any drama, because thankfully our parents do well! haha! But hosting at your own home allows you to call all the shots, if you are not a great cook, ask people to bring things. Not every holiday has to be out of a Martha Stewart Living magazine. 

This really is so important for you and your husband. This topic can make people very bitter and resentful which is why having a game plan is key. Holidays are NOT WORTH fighting over. There are so many ways to avoid the drama. The last person you want to be arguing with is your husband and at the end of the day, some people are just arguing over a day or date. Hence why I mention celebrating on different days. You also need to keep lines of communication open with your parents and in-laws, let them know your ideas and struggles and they should help. My parents have been so fabulous about holidays and really helped us because at the end of the day they do not care when they see us, they just want to see us. So keep the lines of communication open with everyone.

Be Honest.
I guess this goes with communicate and shouldn't be too hard but for things to go smooth, be honest. If you really don't want to spend the night away from your home on Christmas, tell your husband, don't just go along with it and be pissy the whole day. No one wants to be around a couple who is arguing on the holidays. Buzz kill. Speak up at the start when you guys discuss the holiday plans, don't just brush it off. Being honest, not just in this aspect but in your marriage is so key. Your husband can not always read your mind. So, be sure to speak up....or at least don't complain when the plans go how you discussed because you did not choose to speak up and be honest. Trust me, I used to be the timid girl who never spoke up! 

Stick together.
Do not throw your spouse under the bus and say "this was his idea" or make snide remarks. Communicate from the start and stick to the plan. You are a united front together and made the decisions together. You did it in attempts to make everyone included happy so please do not throw your husband or wife under the bus. You are doing the best you can and trying to fit everyone in.

Those are really the tips we stick to. We plan early and give everyone heads up to make sure everyone knows our plans. I am very happy with our holiday game plan. We have been following the same one for the past few years and it works. This year is obviously kind of a cluster with throw baby #4 in right before Christmas but we will make it to as many events as humanly possible. 

What are your tips for making everyone happy?? Or avoiding the drama??