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Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas with my family of 4!

This was the first year in our 9 years of marriage to have Christmas at home. Just us. I take that back. The white and icey Christmas 2 years ago, caused us to have Christmas at home. Just us. But that wasn't planned. And so I didn't embrace it like I should have. Once we realized that on Christmas Day, we had no place to be, Jeremy and I started talking and thinking. We felt like it was an opportunity to do something different. Maybe we could take the boys and go serve somewhere or visit those stuck in a hospital on the holiday. Fortunately, our hearts were in the same place and we wanted this Christmas to look differently. Goodness, the gifts can be such a distraction from the reason we celebrate. It's fun and all. But I'm always wondering how to make it more purposeful. What will my kids remember about Christmas in our home in 20+ years? That thought had been in my head alot. So as the week of Christmas approached, we had no plans. We knew that we would attend our church's Christmas service that morning, but other than that, our day was still open. Then a few days before the big day, Jeremy mentioned to me that some single guys at work, with family far away, didn't have plans for Christmas. As soon as he shared, I was so excited. We both knew what we wanted to do. I couldn't have planned it better myself. They joined us for dinner and hung out until about midnight playing games. And I can say with 100% certainty that it brought me more joy than anyone at our house. I realize that we might not be able to do something special every year, on Christmas Day. But this year, God worked it out perfectly for us and I'm still feeling blessed by their company and that they chose to join us for such a special day. Here are a few pictures of the morning with the boys.
My favorite gift. :)
And Jeremy's favorite.
The boys playing a round of Hi-Ho Cherry-O while I worked on dinner.
One more Christmas celebration to go!

Round 3

On Christmas Eve night, we headed to Jeremy's aunt's house, as is the tradition. Sadly, some of this extended family hadn't even met Pax and hadn't seen Holden in 3 years! We rotate our holidays so we spend every other Christmas Eve/Christmas with his family or mine. 2 years ago, when we should have gone to his aunt's house, we had an icey white Christmas that prevented us from going anywhere. So it had been way too long since we had seen some of Jeremy's family. I honestly didn't realize it had been so long. Neither of us did very well taking pictures this night but here are the few that I have.
Right before leaving our house.
The boys got these shirts from a family member. This is the school/town where Jeremy grew up. Tiny school, but the pride runs big. And so did the shirts. ;) That's the boys with their pawpaw and cousin, Hannah. Lots of orange going on there.

Round 2

Friday evening before Christmas we celebrated with my dad's side of the family at my aunt and uncle's house. My meme came in for this. And this is the first year, in my memory, where we didn't have Christmas at her house. But since we are all in the metro area, she was sweet to let my aunt bring her this direction. My aunt and uncle don't yet have grandchildren, so they spoil our kids alot. It was another great evening with family.I love these pictures of my meme with the kids. She thoroughly enjoys her great grandkids!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas - Round 1

Our Christmas festivities began last Thursday at my sister's house. It was my sister and family + my parents + our family. We were missing my other sister and her family since they came to Texas for Thanksgiving this year. Jeremy came home from work a little early and then we headed over for dinner. It was a fun time.
Carson played dress up with Pax and Pax loved every minute of the special attention.
I just had to include those. :)
We did a little present opening.
There are always moments that pass me by that I wish I could capture on video. The moment Holden opened this new sock monkey from my parents was one of those times. He went completely NUTS. Had Jeremy even been prepared for photos they would have all been blurry because he was jumping, hollering and swinging his new monkey around. He has completely worn out his original sock monkey that we gave him on his adoption day, 3+ years ago. And he was so excited to see this brightly colored friend. Now he sleeps with them both, but still drags around his original.
It was a wonderful evening celebrating with family.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

from our family

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and 2012!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a good read.

This week I read Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis. It's an easy, quick read. Rarely can I finish a book in a week. I just can't devote all my spare time to reading. It had been mentioned on some blogs that I follow and so I purchased it without knowing much about it. Though the title itself sounds heavy towards adoption, that wasn't the meat of the book. There was 1 chapter on adoption. And he mentioned some statistics that most of you don't care to read. {143million orphans worldwide. Which that number has risen to 163million today. 2.1billion Christians. If 7% of those Christians adopted, there would be no orphans.} That type of stuff. But the book was a challenge to live with compassion. To look outside for those that are hurting and struggling. To share our time, resources and the hope that we have with those around us. It makes you think. Evaluate your life. How your'e spending your time and resources. I recommend it. Everytime I picked up the book to read, I read this from the back cover over and over and over again.
"Real joy is not always found in obvious places. Instead it hides in corners, waiting to be discovered when we sacrifice our desires for God's desires."
I love those words. Click here to for the author's blog.

Our family's Christmas cookie

I like the idea of having a special Christmas cookie or sweet something. A recipe that only comes out in December. And I think we've found ours. It's a Paula Deen recipe if that tells you anything. :) But I found the recipe on another blog last year around Christmas and they were a big hit in this house. Jeremy doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but he kept coming back for more and more of these cookies. They are his favorite! I've already made them 3 times this month and I don't normally bake around here. So here's a new recipe to try out before January 1st, when everyone hits the gym and starts eating healthy. :)

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (18 oz.) box moist chocolate cake mix Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll the chilled dough into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will remain soft and "gooey". Cool completely and sprinkle with more powdered sugar.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I realize this won't break anyone's heart except mine, but I'm done posting each day's activities. We are truckin' right along with our Advent calendar and Jesse tree, but now I'm behind posting them all. So I'm breaking all the rules and not playing catch up this time. :) So here are a few highlights from the past week or so.
The boys did a Christmas tree craft. They LOVE painting. I caught Pax painting his entire forearm green and then later, tasting the craft paint.
We were able to spend almost a full day at the Myer's house. And it was a fun one! Once the kids woke from their afternoon naps, we went out for an early dinner and then to a really neat area for walking around and light looking.
(I'm not sure what possessed me to hold my 32lb {+5lbs extra in winter wear} toddler in this manner. Sorry for the awkwardness, Pax. Though, clearly he's not bothered by it.)
Pax's birthmom, M, came for a visit bearing many Christmas gifts for both boys. She and her family are givers and it seems that they love shopping for and giving to our little guys. See for yourself.We waited in a car line for 2 hours(!!!) to see Arlington's Interlochen lights. It was a full 2 hours before we even got into the neighborhood. Craziness. Jeremy says we'll do it again next year. It's a cool place because 95% of the houses participate (just my guestimate), which is so rare these days. And it was a fun time with the boys. Though next year, I will come prepared with snacks (and glow bracelets). :)
This little boy loves him some Christmas lights!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent activities, day 13

This morning we went to Outdoor World's Santa Wonderland. Which might sound a little crazy since we don't do Santa. But I've said it before, he's just a character around here, so he's not completely ejected from our home and activities. And I love letting my boys get their pictures made with Santa. I think those little pictures are so fun to look back on each year. I also loved (and laughed outloud) when Santa asked Holden what he wanted for Christmas this year. I laughed because Holden gave him this blank stare as if he didn't speak English. At 3 1/2, Holden still doesn't really know what's ahead in the gift department in less than 2 weeks. But I have to say that I like it that way. (And I don't really mean gifts from us. I just mean the cumulative truckload that the boys will receive from everyone.)

I like going to Outdoor World because the picture with Santa is free. You can buy a package, which I would never do. But they give you one 5X7 print and they also allow you to snap a picture with your own personal camera. Sweet. While waiting in line, I asked the boys to pose by the snowman. Pax told me he was "sca-wud" and started trying to crawl up leg. Oh boy! If he's scared of a non-mobile snowman, I may need to brace myself for this Santa picture. Holden posed. Pax clung to my leg like a koala bear, so he's not pictured in this one.
Let me back up by mentioning, before leaving the house this morning I pulled up our blog on the computer and showed the boys all of their past photos with Santa. Beginning with 2010 (and yes, Holden is wearing the same exact sweater because it still fits, sort of.), then 2009 and just little Holden in 2008. I just wanted to remind them that Santa was nice and he wouldn't take them home with him. One picture and you still get to leave the store with mommy. It worked. Well, that and the promise of a fruit snack.
Next up Holden got to play with the trains and Pax wanted to color (with pencils nonetheless).Then they both rode the reindeer carousel. Believe it or not Pax is normally a happy, smiley little guy. Just not feeling it today, I guess.
And 2 more fake smiles before heading out of the store.
The boys really enjoyed their time here, which made for a fun morning for me also. Last year, Jeremy did this with us. I would have never taken my 1 and 2 year old on foot through this store by myself. I stayed home alot more back then. It's amazing what a difference a year makes and how much easier these little outings are.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent activities, days 7-12

December 7 - I took the boys to pick out their 2011 Christmas ornament. Each year when we do this, I'm trying to steer them in the direction of picking out something that has described them well in the past year. So I normally pick out 2-3 for them to choose from. In the past, we have done Hallmark ornaments, which I love. But this year, we just went to Hobby Lobby. It was just 1 week into December and the selection was pretty bad. Before arriving at the store, Pax had already decided he wanted a train and Holden was requesting a truck. We found neither of those. :( Pax has always been our sporty boy, so I was happy he fell in love with this one instead. I tried to push him towards the football, but he chose the basketball. Pax loves to wear a helmet when playing with any type of ball, so football describes him well at this age. He is definitely a lover of all sports right now. Holden did end up finding something with wheels, which does fit him well. I had just hoped to find his beloved cars or trucks, rather than a tricycle. Oh well.
December 8 - That evening, we danced to Christmas music. :)And Jeremy was a little annoyed that I thought I needed to take pictures of this event.

December 9 - This is the day we left for our weekend getaway. But I was thankful my parents continued the Advent calendar for us. So on Friday evening they bundled up the boys and took them to our church's Journey to the Manger. They got to see all sorts of animals and characters from Jesus' birth story. I heard that they even got to roast a marshmallow.

December 10 - The boys played "Dress the Snowman". Holden did this one last year and had alot of fun with it. You can do it like a paper doll or you can actually glue the pieces down, which is what mom helped the boys do. Pretty cute. My boys really love to sit and do crafts.
December 11 - And then last night, I read Jesus' birth story from Luke 2, and Jeremy, Holden and Pax helped act it out with our Veggie Tales Nativity. Fun time.

December 12 - We mailed off our Christmas cards. My parents were at the house and Pax chose to stay back and snuggle with nana. But Holden is always up for getting out of the house. So he rode with me to the post office to purchase stamps. Then he was my little helper. As I added stamps to all 50 cards, he slipped them into the drop box.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Celebrating #9

This weekend I was able to celebrate 9 years of marriage with my husband. Our wedding anniversary is November 23rd, which fell the day before Thanksgiving this year. So we postponed our celebration by a couple of weeks since it fell so close to the holiday this year. It has been 13 months (but who's counting?!) since we had a night away with just the 2 of us. And that was when we were celebrating our anniversary last year. My parents came to our house and stayed with the boys and we headed only 15 miles east for the weekend. It was almost weird being so close to home and at some of our normal spots, but we had both agreed that we didn't want to spend alot of time on the road. Jeremy planned just about everything on his own. I stayed out of it. And I love surprises, so I loved just sitting back and slowly finding out what was coming next.

We left our house Friday morning and headed for brunch and to do a little Christmas shopping at one of our favorite malls.
After we had circled the mall and scratched some people off of our shopping list, we headed back to the hotel to check-in, rest a little and then get ready for our evening. This was our hotel in the form of gingerbread.For Friday night, Jeremy planned for us to attend a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. It's something we had always talked about doing but had never done. We used to try and be more creative with our dates and do different things. But it seems like these days, we're lucky to just a get a date. So the creativity level has definitely dropped. But it was so nice that he put some thought into our weekend away and came up with some different fun things for us to try out. The dinner theatre was a fun and entertaining time. And I really appreciated Jeremy thinking outside of the box on this one.It was still early afterwards, so we headed to The Cheesecake Factory for coffee and dessert. Now mind you, we had already had dessert at the dinner theatre, but when Jeremy mentioned 30 types of cheesecake I didn't turn him down. We sort of dressed up this night, and this is the only blasted picture we got. Grrrr!
The next morning, I woke before 8am. I REALLY wanted to sleep in, but I just couldn't do it. Those boys have really done a number on my ability to sleep in. They have NOT done a number on their daddy in this department. So I let Jeremy sleep until 10 and then we headed to downtown Grapevine to check out all the fun gift shops. Downtown Grapevine is such a cute place, especially at Christmastime.
After some looking around and then lunch, we headed to the Delaney Vineyards and Winery. We went on a little tour and then did a tasting. I learned so much! About wine, and monks and the "angel's share". So interesting. And Texas is the 5th largest producer of wine in the U.S. That was a fact that surprised me. It was a beautiful place that I did not know about. And a fun addition to our weekend away.

We rested a bit on Saturday afternoon and then headed out that evening for dinner and movie. We slept in again today before heading home to see our boys. And I was able to sleep until 9:30am this morning!

It was great, simple and carefree weekend. As parents you're constantly caring for, cleaning up after and serving your little ones. It's our responsibility as parents. One that I love and am honored to do. But once in awhile, it's nice to have a break from that responsibility. And it's a blessing to have family that will step in for us so we can enjoy that break. We are thankful that the boys had a fun weekend with Nana and Papa J. And I'm thankful for my husband, that said "no" to everything else, but us for the weekend. He's my very best friend and this weekend only reminded me why.