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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Dip

Not much to report - just Avery testing out her first condiment. I thought this picture sums up her personality: cautious and deliberate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Enjoying Each Other

Though lots of fights are breaking out throughout the day, we are also really enjoying watching the kids start to play together. Avery is following Addie's lead as she teaches Avery all about being a girl - minus all the crying and drama - Addie has enough of that for both of them.
It has been a long week without Daddy so tonight I let the "big kids" stay up to watch a new movie and enjoy the first hot chocolate of the season. I think it was a good night for everyone :-)








Saturday, November 15, 2008

AVERY IS 1!!

Today was a special day - Avery's first birthday!! Due to Matt's schedule and Thanksgiving travels right around the corner, we opted to keep Avery's birthday quiet and small. The day went on pretty much as normal, with Caleb going to school, and Matt at work. Thankfully Matt was able to have the evening off and we went out to eat at Red Robin (a kid favorite) with Grandpa Popa and Grandma Pat. The "big" kids had fun with their milkshakes and Avery had fun with her first taste of ice cream! Can you believe that? My how things are different with the third! This poor child had to wait until her first birthday to try ice cream?!
Poor Avery, because she's so easy going, is often not fussed over enough. Those special "firsts" just aren't as pressing on my brain. For example, a friend was visiting when Avery was 10 months old and was setting the table for dinner. "Which cup should I use for Avery?" she inquired. "Uh..." is what I said, as it hit me JUST THEN that we had never given Avery a cup to try! What terrible parents. I'm pretty sure with Caleb we had designated cup-training moments scheduled into our day, and poor Avery never had a chance to use a cup because we forgot!! Thankfully for Avery (and us) she has very quickly mastered the cup and even given up her bottle on her own as she realizes now that the cup is much more fun.
Now back to the point (see? Overlooked again!!!): So we had a really great time at dinner and grandparents came back to our house to join us for cake -- our giant Costco cake that I purchased for just the 7 of us. Avery wasn't too interested in unwrapping her gifts -- Caleb and Addie helped with that -- but she was super-excited over everything that she received! A great thing about Avery (among many) is that she is wonderful at play. She can (and will) entertain herself for over an hour playing with the toys near her. She flipped each present around, pounding on each part to see if it would make noise. She was sent a soft babydoll by Patti and just clung to that precious little thing -- even grunting towards it on her dresser so she could sleep with it during the night. (Patti - you're snuggle gifts are winners from the start!) It's so hard to believe that Avery is one already - the time just keeps going faster with each kid that enters our family.
As we look back on this past year it is with nothing but joy. Avery has blessed our family in so many ways. She is just such a happy little baby - loving anything and anyone around her. The kids adore her and her special bond with Caleb just has to be seen to be appreciated. We feel truly blessed to have our family.
And baffled by this new record -- a first year baby and no other baby on the way! :-)


Yay, I'm 1!!


Toy from Mom and Dad





What's next?

Loving the doll...





Testing it Out...


Loving it...


Going back for more ...


What?


It's good...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Time!!

Well, it's that time of year again - the marathon of "holidays" that seem to start mid-October and keep us running all the way to the new year. The kids were so, so excited to check out a new place to find our pumpkins and fall decorations. A couple of places were recommended to us, so we grabbed our friend Brandy (I joke that she's the kids' serogate dad - she's great for extra support during those "special" moments Matt can't be there for) and headed to a pumpkin patch 25 minutes away. .......2 1/2 hours later we finally arrived! The silly thing about Grand Rapids (among many) is that they have hundreds of streets that break off and pick up somewhere else on the opposite end of the city. So once we figured out just which branch of this one road we needed, we were set to go! The kids had a great time riding in the wagon, picking out their perfect pumpkins, and checking out all of the great stuff for the house. Apparently Michigan is famous for their apple orchards and so it seems that everywhere we go there are free cider donuts and apple cider. The kid really enjoyed munching their treats all the (much shorter) way home. Caleb decided that he should have a turn at the camera, so I'm including some of his better shots :-)


Caleb with the camera




The girls and our friend Brandie


"It's The Great Pumpkin!"










Far, Far Behind

As usual, I am WAY behind on this blog -- with bedtime recently being a horrific battle, I'm just too beat when they all finally cave somewhere in the 10:00 hour. So I'll update what I remember and just post pictures of what I don't. Sound good??? :-) These were taken on the night of Avery's 11 month birthday! Matt was home, and the girls had just gotten their new jammies for the fall and winter. They were especially loving that night - we got some great shots of them paired up with one another.