Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas Part 3 (School Program and Class Party)

For the second year we joined the rest of the paparazzi and watched some sweet little faces sing in the annual Christmas program at Otter Creek School. What a difference a year makes! Last year (they boys' first year to participate in a program of any kind) Ben sat there looking at everyone in the audience and chewing the gum that his mommy forgot to make him spit out. Ooops. Obviously Drew enjoyed being on the stage and singing the songs last year. But nothing like this year! This year they both sang along with every song, did all their little motions, smiled and both seemed to enjoy themselves.

Here they are with the rest of the school on stage.
"Rock the baby, rock, rock the baby. Rock baby Jesus is born!"...."Aaaaand....spread Christmas cheer!"And here they are all watching the doors for Santa to make his appearance. After the program all the moms, dads, siblings, grandparents and everyone else headed up to each of the classrooms for a Christmas party. Darci, Jaime and I worked together to do the class party. We had lots of yummy food, the kids got to make a Christmas ornament to take home, they all exchanged presents for a friend (whose name they drew), Santa came to visit the classroom and got to give Miss Fisher her present too. Here are a few pictures with their friends: The class picture with Santa was a little bit sparse since there were 4 kids who were out sick. It just seems like everyone is lately. And a picture with Miss Fisher! We may have a different teacher this year, but nothing has changed at all about how much we love Otter Creek and all the Godly women there. They begin every. single. day. with a prayer for the children who they come in contact with, and they love them each deeply. We feel so lucky to have them in a place that gives as much attention to loving Jesus as preparing for school.
Okay, on to to the next Christmas celebration!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas Part 2 (Celebrating with the Blankinships)

A couple of weekends before Christmas the Blankinships drove down from Missouri to celebrate with us. For days all Drew and Ben could talk about was seeing their cousin Dresi. So when they finally got here the boys were entertained the whole time. We packed quite a bit into just a few days. We kicked things off by taking the kids to paint Christmas ornaments and even MawMaw painted a little one for her own tree. Of course you know our kids - they are always up early - so we were there when it opened and had the place all to ourselves for most of the time we were there. I think Dres could've stayed there all day long she loved it so much!Here are the cousins in front of our Christmas treeand the obligatory "silly face picture"The boys loved opening all of their presents and loved giving everyone else theirs. Here Drew is showing us his Storm Trooper talking helmet and Storm Trooper gun. He and Ben each got one and if you come to our house at certain times and listen to the sounds coming from the playroom, you'd swear you were in the Star Wars movie. They were so fun to watch this year with the presents. I think they enjoyed handing out the presents and helping everyone else open theirs, as much as they enjoyed their own. What a blessing to see your children getting as excited about what they are giving as they are getting. I hope they are always that way.
After lots of excitement and some much needed rest, they woke up the next morning for some good snuggle time on the couch with Dres while waiting patiently for..........Daddy and PawPaw to put the new trampoline together! That's right! MawMaw and PawPaw gave the boys a trampoline for Christmas. So PawPaw and Michael braved the super cold weather and spent several hours putting it together so that the kids could jump for a little bit.
Talk about excitement! Even the cold weather couldn't keep them off of it. And rather than fight an uphill battle that I couldn't win, I bundled them up really well and grabbed the camera for some pictures. I don't think they minded the chill of the morning at all, especially when I brought out some hot chocolate.

We all rewarded their hard work with a trip to the Pancake Pantry (a must every time they visit, with no objections from us!) and then took the rest of the day pretty easy in front of the fireplace to stay warm. Which was great because its always just so good to visit and watch the kids play.
What a great way to kick off our Christmas season! We sure do love you guys, and had so much fun. Our only complaint is that we missed Uncle Dan who couldn't come because he had to be on call for work. Merry Christmas one and all!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas Part 1 (Breakfast with Santa and Decorating the House)

We were that family this year. You know the one. The family who put their Christmas decorations up before we left for Thanksgiving. I know, I can't believe it either. But, this year it seems like we were going to be in such a rush once we got back that there wouldn't be enough time to get it all done. And we were right, there wasn't enough time. Once we got back, the month of December was here and we've been busy doing the holiday rush since.
The boys really got into the decorating this year. In fact, they've really been into all of it this year. I thought they were really into it last year. But, no. This year's enthusiasm is putting last year's to shame, and it is so much fun. They know all the words [read: think they know all the words] to all the songs, are all caught up in our Elf on the Shelf (whose name is Blitzen, by the way), love to read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at least two times a day every day, and - most importantly - love telling the story of the birth of Jesus. Here are a few of the pictures I took one morning while we were decorating the house...
We also had our annual Family Christmas Breakfast at church and the boys got to have their picture made with the big guy. For the record, this was the first year that Ben didn't cry when he got to see him. And we didn't even have to bribe him to sit on his lap and talk. That's progress, people. ;)

The ladies who put the breakfast with Santa do such an amazing job with it. This year they had a live nativity scene, which was a hit with the kiddos. They each got to make an ornament to put on their tree upstairs, and as always, we ate some really good food. It was such a fun morning and a tradition that I just love.Later that afternoon BeBe came over to pick up the boys for a spend the night party. She invited them over to make a gingerbread choo-choo, painted stockings and loaded up on all the candy and McDonalds they could stand. She was so sweet to have them over so that Michael and I could have some of our friends over for a little grown up Christmas party, and they had such a good time. Here are my precious little elves before they headed out. More to come soon. Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

So Much To Be Thankful For...

There really are too many things to list here. But we are so very thankful to God for so many reasons this year. A few of them are things that we'll be thankful for every year. Things like Jesus' faithfulness to us, each other, our families and on and on.

But there are also a few things that we're thankful for this year that are more specific to this past year, and I want to make sure we don't forget them as time moves forward.

One of the biggest praises is that Ben's body has been so receptive to the the Growth Hormone Treatments. In the first 6 months that he's been on it, he grew a full pound and a full 2 inches!!! That may not sound like much to you. But to us it's monumental, and it was enough to get him onto the weight growth charts for the first time in his life. We are thankful that we have Doctors in our lives who love our children and who we trust, like Dr. Leeper and Dr. Guy. For us, that response was the affirmation that I had really needed to know that we had made the right decision. I mean, its not an easy task to give your 3 or 4 year old a shot 6 days a week. He does pretty well with it, but its still not really fun for him. We prayerfully made the decision to do it, but the doctors never said that it was something we HAD to do. So, we are thankful for two growing boys.

We are also so thankful this year for Michael's job. Seems like we know so many who have lost their jobs or are struggling in this economy. And the fact that Michael can still work and allow me to be at home with Drew and Ben is a blessing.

Fall has always been my very favorite time of year, and Thanksgiving is such a special holiday. This year we were able to spend it in Missouri and as usual we jammed so much into the few days we were there.

We celebrated with more food than we could eat and the day after Thanksgiving Uncle Dan volunteered to take all the kids to play on the farm so all of the rest of us could find some great steals on Black Friday. I'm pretty sure he wanted to do it because he loves spending time with the boys and Dresi. But I'll bet that getting out of shopping was a pretty good reason too. So we loaded up his truck with the car seats, hitched up the trailer with the 4-wheelers and sent them off for a day of fun on the farm. They had so much fun!

We also got to go back to this place called Bonkers that all the kiddos love. Its a cross between Chuck E Cheese and a kid-friendly climbing gym made of woven mats so they kind of bounce as they climb from place to place. I've never seen anything like it, and its really pretty cool. They love it at any rate, and we enjoy watching them have so much fun.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Halloween! (Or Also Known As: Super Heroes to the Rescue!)

This year our Halloween was so full of activities and parties that it almost felt as busy as Christmas. It was a whirlwind for sure. But a fun one. This year the boys are both all about superheroes. So we got on the Internet and let them each pick out which one they wanted to be. Ben chose Superman (because it was the only one that didn't have to wear a mask).......And Drew chose Batman (possibly because of the extra cool gloves). They were both decked out and ready to go catch some bad guys (and candy).Here are all of the lifegroup boys at the beginning of Trunk or Treat at church.And with a few more buddies while getting candy from car to car. I took Drew around to the cars while Ben opted to hand out candy with Daddy. It took him about an hour to warm up to being in a costume, all the loud noise, and all the people before he decided he was comfortable enough to go get some candy of his own. I just love their little personalities. They are each so special and unique in their own way. So the next day we figured we'd better get a move on and carve ourselves some pumpkins. Here's how you do it!

Step 1: Pick out a really great pumpkin and cover the kitchen table with lots of newspaperStep 2: Get your carving and scooping tools readyStep 3: Pull off the top of the pumpkin Step 4: Pull out all the pumpkin guts and seeds and be sure to yell "Eeeewwwwww" really loudStep 5: Run around the house all hopped up on Trunk or Treat candy while Mommy does the actual carving of the pumpkin, then come back for a picture and take credit for the jack-o-lanternStep 6: Take it out to the front porch, stick a candle in it and say "ta-da!" for every one to see the cool pumpkin "you" carved. So here's where Drew's black eye came from (as seen in pictures below and a few soccer pictures earlier). We had saved the pumpkin seeds to roast them when Daddy came home. That night after dinner we were getting all the stuff ready to make them. Now, the boys help me cook pretty often....they love to be a part of whatever is going on....so they know the rules and they are used to sitting on top of the counter. I turned my back for literally a split second, so I'm not entirely sure what happened. But from what we gather, we think that Drew shifted how he was sitting, then Ben shifted just a little bit, which made Drew lose his balance, and he fell right off the counter. The eye was pretty bad, I'll have to say. And we were all pretty upset about it. We called all the right people and the good news was that he was and would be just fine. The bad news was that it was going to look pretty gruesome for a couple of days. And it did. Poor buddy. But he is such a tough little guy and doesn't ever let much get him down for long. We gave him the option of not participating in the next Halloween event, but he wouldn't hear of it. He wanted to be on that stage.

So....off we went to the Parade of Bible Characters. This year, we did it as a lifegroup again. Initially we thought we'd do something cute with the first family tree. You know, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth and a tree. But then - as I was talking on the phone with Jen about costumes - the boys heard me saying that they'd be Cain and Abel. And they got SO upset. Lips started quivering and they started crying. I didn't ever say which one would be which, but Ben said to me "Mommy, I don't want to get dead." And then Drew said "And I don't want to be a bad guy!" Bless their hearts, I felt so bad. I didn't realize they would even think about it that way. I guess they've been paying attention afterall.

So we found another story to do. But that was the end of Ben wanting to go on stage to do it at all. Instead we did the Zacheus story. Drew was Jesus, Owen was the Wee Little Man, Jay was the sycamore tree, and Weston was the money that Zacheus gave back to all the people. I'm sure that it was an okay Bible story with good clues. But the truth is that Owen totally stole the show. That sweet baby marched right to the middle of the stage and proceeded to lift his whole costume up and show it all for the whole time. The audience roared and I'm pretty sure Jen was mortified. But it was a great moment. I'm just glad someone got it on video. Next was the boys' classroom party at school. They first got to go to the craft table and make pumpkin picture frame magnets. And then got to enjoy many Pumpkin-themed games around the room. Here are all the Batmen.And here are all the boys in their class (except Ben, who was not in the picture taking spirit at all.). Daddy even came up to the school to celebrate with us!Drew with a couple of his girlfriends, Emma and Ava.The whole class (minus Ben again...see above for details).And one class picture (albeit amid tears) WITH Ben in it! One day he'll thank me. But I assure you it wasn't that day.They trick-or-treated to Miss Pat's office to get a piece of candy, and each class gets to parade their costumes to all the other classes. After all that we all came back for some treats. It was such a fun party, and Miss Fisher has a great group of kids in her class. Actually most of the kids in the class were together last year in Miss Betsy's class too, so they already have some pretty strong friendships.

And no Halloween would be complete without Trick-or-Treating in the neighborhood. The last couple of years the Belvilles have come with us to go around a few streets here. But this year they were moving on Halloween weekend. So instead, we met up for dinner and brought Brax home with us so the three musketeers could collect candy together. (Oh, and as a side note, yes-Drew opted to change his costume to be a UT basketball player. He's got the uniform on underneath the track suit. And in this picture he couldn't look at the camera because he needed to make sure I got a picture of the #1 painted on his cheek.) Here we are before we head off.

It was a really fun Halloween....maybe the most fun I've ever had. They really enjoyed it this year, and truly there is nothing more fun than watching your children enjoy something.

Happy Halloween, little spooks!