Thursday, December 25, 2008


We had the most wonderful Christmas break! Matt was given a bonus vacation week that spanned over Christmas so we were able to go back "home" to Ohio and spend the holidays with our families. The kids had a great time and there are just too many pictures to share. Here are a couple of highlights: the kids' first 3-D experience watching The Polar Express, leaving a letter for Santa, finding Santa's surprises on Christmas morning, and playing with cousin Cam-Man.
We laugh (kind of) at the fact that, had Santa known that Addie would be most excited about her donut, he probably would have skipped the giant dollhouse that he brought for her. As a reminder (or if I didn't mention it before), all Addie asked for from Santa while on his lap was a chocolate donut with sprinkles. Thankfully Santa remembered and came through on Christmas morning :-) And that is ALL that Addie talks about in reference to her Christmas day. Oh to be two again...

Getting Santa's plate ready

Caleb and Addison

Addie finding her Christmas donut

Having eaten all she cared about

Addie's new dollhouse

The kids discovered that Santa's bell got caught in the fireplace. It was worn by one of the kids at all times for the next two weeks.

Crazy-Santa brought Caleb a drumset

Caleb's new baseball shirt and catcher's chest protector (or whatever they're called)

Addie and her new Tinkerbell doll

Caleb with his new slippers and shinguards

The cousins

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gingerbread Houses, Nutcracker, and More!

This Christmas season really has been so enjoyable as the kids are reaching ages where they understand more, can physically do more, and can be excited about the season with us. Here are some pictures of the fun we've been having getting ready. The kids all decorated our gingerbread house together and Matt and I took Addie to see The Nutcracker. She loved her time there and looked so big and grown up! These are some of those memories that you just pray you don't forget. Addie's face at the Nutcracker was just so priceless - and hearing her tell Caleb her version of what she saw was just hilarious! We're very thankful that it worked out for both Matt and me to take her together.

The gingerbread house

Caleb and Addie with their creation

Addie on the way to The Nutcracker

Quite possibly the worst family picture we have. Complete with Addie's "new smile" and my Grave's Disease bulging eyes.

Addison waiting for the elevator to take her to our seats. Her dress was precious but she wouldn't remove her new special coat

Starting the demolition a week later

Got it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Daddy Reindeer

Tonight we headed over to one of the hospitals that Matt works at for a Christmas party that they put on annually for the kids. I was a little apprehensive about going, since the party was for the kids that have been admitted into the hospital, but felt better when we arrived and saw that all of the other residents families were there as well. It was a fun night of face-painting, balloon animals, cookie decorating, and caroling, complete with the ortho residents dressed in costume - Matt was a reindeer, though I can't say for sure which one! The kids had a very fun time and enjoyed their trip up to Santa's lap. Caleb's list is ever-growing while Addie is pretty much open for suggestions :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tis the Season

So tonight at dinner Caleb looked up and said, "Did I ever tell you the story of Bethlehem?" and proceeded to tell me a version quite similar to this first video. He repeated this story several times, basically word for word. This version that I'm posting of course does not do the real thing justice. Unfortunately this version strays from his originals, but you get the point. I'm not sure what he's reciting this from, but he's making it sound as if he's narrating the Christmas Program at school. I'm certain that they wouldn't give this responsibility to a four year old without his parent's knowing, so they may have to let him down gently :-) The extended version that I have been hearing all night replaces "the shepherds were scared" with "the shepherds were frightened" which just sounds cuter :-) and involves all coming to see Jesus involved in a quest to stop baby Jesus from crying :-) It's hilarious - definitely a necessary break from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season!
Sorry that this video doesn't include those wonderful details :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree!

What fun today was! It sure does snow a lot here in Michigan! Snow first began to fall November 30t and literally hasn't stopped yet. I wouldn't say that there is a ton - probably 12 inches by now, but it was absolutely perfect for our adventure to the tree farm today! Never would I have thought that bringing 3 little kids out in a blizzard to cut down a tree would be a successful venture, but it was absolutely wonderful! The kids had a blast riding the sled down the big hills through the hundreds of Christmas trees there to choose from. Of course we stuck with our unintentional tradition of finding the Charlie-Browniest of trees (not quite that bad this year, just tiny). Caleb helped Matt saw down the tree, and we headed back to the car just as the snow picked up. Candy canes on the ride home and a repeat showing of The Polar Express (I know!) topped off the perfect afternoon.


Monday, December 8, 2008

A Visit to Santa

So Matt and I had decided a couple of years ago that we weren't real sure how to handle Santa with our kids, so we'd just see what happened when the kids got old enough to know one way or the other. Last year worked really well with stories of St Nick and how Santa Claus represented St Nick. This year, however, was a whole new experience. Caleb just took Santa and ran with him, with Addie super-close on his heels! For a two year old, Addie sure did know a whole lot about Santa Claus and his hometown, The North Pole ... "where the polar bears live" she would remind us each time she heard North Pole mentioned.
So we had a very fun time this year helping the kids to fulfill their fantasies of Jolly Ole St Nick -- and we know that some people highly disagree with the fantasy of Santa Claus and we mean no ill-will as we discuss our holiday season -- to each his own with the understanding that we all know what Christmas is really about. And as long as our kids also know, then we, personally, are happy to indulge them in the fantasy of Santa should they express desire to do so. Which they most definitely did :-)
Continuing on, tonight was our visit to Santa at the mall. The kids were quite excited to see him and I am happy to report that everyone did a great job on Santa's lap.
Caleb, as expected, had to be literally pulled off of Santa's lap during his long list, complete with explanations and specifications, of his requests for Christmas, along with his thoughtful questions about Santa's health (he's been quite concerned about this recently).
Addie kept it short and sweet. "And what would you like for Christmas, little girl?" asks Santa. "Umm, a chocolate donut with sprinkles" replies Addie. We got a look from Santa.
After our visit we headed over to the local IHOP - nothing says Christmas like omelettes and french toast. We returned home to attempt our first showing of The Polar Express. Seeing as how Caleb doesn't like any movie that has an antagonist or noise, we didn't expect it to last past the opening credits. He surprised us, however, by LOVING it! We'll see if it sticks, but this is a HUGE accomplishment for everyone :-) It was a wonderful start to the Christmas season and a great day with the family. I sure do love Christmas!

Here's Caleb stressing his point

Check out this shirt - I'm gonna be sorry when this doesn't fit next year

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

This past weekend we were in Illinois for Thanksgiving. Matt had to be back in Michigan for the rest of the weekend, but drove in for Thanksgiving Day. It was so awesome being with my (Stef) side of the family for a long weekend. This Thanksgiving tradition of all families meeting in Illinois began over 30 years ago. The only change is that, now that this generation of cousins are married, we make sure we have our "alternate" holidays to share with the in-laws on the same years so that we can all be together the other Thanksgivings (if that makes sense :-)) This year, with all cousins, spouses, kids, aunts uncles and greats together we had over 30 people. It's always such a blast catching up with everyone and seeing the new tiny faces at the table -- or more appropriately this year, on the floor.
Caleb managed to get in some good baseball time with the biggest roster he's seen yet. This kids had a great time seeing each other and it was a wonderful reminder of just how blessed we all are.

Addison, Avery, and cousin Cam

I know Mal wasn't as bored as she appears.

Cam playing baseball

Making their play