Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Graydon!!!

Graydon is FOUR!  Some days I still think back to the fussy baby that he was and realize that we have come such a long way. 

Take a look at how much he has grown over the years.





Graydon is one of the sweetest little boys, and so easy to parent.  He willingly goes to bed, often telling us that he's tired.  I can count on one hand the number of times he has gotten out after being put to bed.  He enjoys eating all fruits and most vegetables.  And he is often very happy in the kitchen, helping me with whatever meal or snack I'm preparing.  

He has such a silly sense of humor - especially his knock knock jokes.

Graydon : "Knock Knock!
Me:"Who's there?"
Graydon:"Banana Pants"
Me:"Banana Pants who?"

(And then he laughs hysterically.  And then I do because he is.  He has a very contagious laugh).

Graydon continues to amaze me with his intelligence.  He is a great teacher - to himself! Some of the things he's taught himself this year include shapes, some phonics, how to write all of the letters in the alphabet - including his name, and how to whistle. He sits very content in church with some markers and paper and writes letters and numbers and anything else he can think of. He discovered Super Mario Bros. this year and has become a fan.  When we're outside, he loves to ride bikes, hit the baseball, or go for a ride in the tire swing.

I can't get enough of this little boy.  I love him so much!!!

Happy birthday, Graydon!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus

I came to the dinner table earlier last week with a World Vision gift catalog. Our activity for the evening was to pick out a birthday gift for Jesus. Matthew 25:40 says, "Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me."

We glanced through each page and decided on a fishing kit for a family. I could tell by Bella's demeanor that she wasn't fully satisfied with just a fishing kit. She wanted to do more.

The next details are a little fuzzy, but soon there were piggy banks turned upside down and three little kids counting out money to buy another gift.

They decided on medicine for sick children.

I can't say how proud and pleased I was to see their generous hearts. They experienced the joy of giving that night.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We continued our Advent activities this week!

December 16th:  Participate in the Christmas program at church.
(photos from this were up last week).

December 17th:  Make Christmas cards

December 18th:  A holiday joke ~ 
'What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?'

December 19th:  At dinner, tell each family
member what you love about them.

The kids love when Daddy plays with them and chases them around the house.  I love that he opens jars that I can't, fixes our broken toilets, and reattaches refrigerator doors when they fall down!

The kids enjoy when I read and snuggle with them.  Andy loves that I'm a good mommy.

Graydon and Curtis love when Bella plays with them and helps them get into their pajamas.  Daddy loves that Bella is such a good listener and I love how kind she is.

I love Graydon's sense of humor, Daddy loves his playfulness.  Bella and Curtis love when Graydon plays nicely and shares.

Daddy loves Curtis's dance moves, Mommy loves his silliness, and Bella and Graydon love playing with Curtis.  

Bella has her Girl Scout Christmas party that evening.  Here she is with her gingerbread house.

December 20th:  Pray for the men and women serving in the military.

December 21:  Family game night!

I taught Bella and Graydon how to play 'Go Fish' that night.  Bella caught on right away.  Graydon kept confusing it with Memory.  He actually won his first round but got upset because he didn't have many 'matches'.  And he kept showing us his cards.  And he kept asking for more than one card at a time.  But I laughed so hard and had so much fun.  I love that the kids are getting old enough to play games with.  

December 22nd:  Make Thin Mints

Besides melting the chocolate in the beginning, my hands were completely off of this kitchen project.  Bella dipped the Ritz crackers into the melted Andes mint chocolates.  Graydon crushed the candy canes and sprinkled them on top.  

They looked pretty and tasted delicious!

December 23rd:  Make a Christmas craft
(We didn't actually do this one.  At the last minute, we changed our minds and went driving around town to see Christmas lights again.  We'd only done it once so far and we all wanted to go out again. )

December 24th:  Attend our church's Christmas Eve service

Christmas arrived a day early in our house.  We're heading out to Wisconsin on Christmas morning this year, so we decided to bump our celebration up a day.  The kids had no complaint with this arrangement.

Bella woke us up this morning with the news of presents under the Christmas tree.  She had even taken a picture of it already.  (Starting to follow in Mommy's footsteps).  She got us out of bed and then the boys, who were definitely still a bit groggy at this point.  

Once Curtis opened his first present, he was hooked.  We had to keep a close eye on him after he tried to sneak Bella and Graydon's gifts to open.  

The first gift that Bella got was a Dream Lite.  She has wanted one of these since summertime and was so happy to finally have one.

Size mattered much to Graydon this year.  He was happy to be opening such a large gift.  (Which he did with obvious enthusiasm and speed).

These new skates definitely topped Curtis's list.  He pretty much wore them all morning.

 Daddy got a new travel mug from the kids and a coffee grinder from me.

I got some new dishes for entertaining.  Very fun and functional.  

The kids also picked out gifts for each other.  Bella bought Graydon this football at her school's holiday shop.

Inside that package were some glow-in-the-dark bracelets from Curtis.

Stockings full of goodies for the road trip.

Andy made us a breakfast feast of scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit, and toast.  Later that afternoon, we got all dressed up for church.

She's getting her Christmas wish for two front teeth!  Such an adorable stage - so happy to have gotten a beautiful photo of it.  

The many faces of Graydon.  Silly boy.

Curtis is getting better at smiling for me.  Sure wish that first one didn't turn out blurry.  But I love it anyway. 

We came home to pack, pack, pack!  The Christmas celebration has just begun!

December 25th:  Sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

(We did this one a day early!  Off to Wisconsin in the morning)

Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Insta-Week Two

Week two of the Christmas season in our home. . .

December 9th: Color in Christmas coloring books 

December 10th:  Sing a Christmas song

December 11th:  Tell someone that you love them

December 12th:  Drive around and look at Christmas lights

December 13th:  Read a Christmas book

December 14th:  Camp out around the Christmas tree

This was the evening of that horrible day when we all received the devastating news out of Newtown, Connecticut.  I planned this camp-out over a month ago, but it felt so right to be nestled together as a family that night.  More of my thoughts on that day below.

December 15th:  Watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Our church had its Christmas program this past Sunday.  Bella and Graydon had been practicing their lines and songs for weeks.

Here's a little video from that morning.

Bella was an angel for the nativity portion and Graydon was a cow.  They both did excellent and it filled my heart with joy to watch them.

A couple of randoms from the week:

One minor blooper on the morning of our Christmas program.  Our refrigerator door fell off!  Thankfully nobody was hurt as Graydon was standing in front of the refrigerator when it happened.  I called Andy home right away to get this door back on. 

Graydon discovered the fun of cup stacking at our VBS this past summer.  Months later, it is still one of his favorite activities. 

The Christmas season is always filled with so much joy.  This is my favorite time of year.  But after Friday's events, joy is something that we've had to choose.  I found out about the shooting when I went onto Facebook on Friday afternoon.  I quickly found an article to give me a few more details.  And as I read, I found myself gasping and weeping.  My heart and emotions understood before my mind even did.

I immediately thought about Bella in her first grade class at school.  I replayed our morning - sending her off to school in her pajamas (her class won the prize for most box-tops collected and so they got to have a special pajama day).  I envisioned waving goodbye to her as the bus drove away.  For many parents, that is the last memory that they have of their little ones - kids who are Bella's age.

I woke up the other day and for a brief moment thought that it was all a bad dream.  My mind keeps thinking of the families, what they might be doing at that very moment - planning their child's funeral, choosing which outfit they should be buried in.  Decisions they should not have to make.  I waited in Bella's room one evening while she was brushing her teeth.  Moments later, I knew that she would join me, we'd ready a story and pray together, and then I would kiss her goodnight.  But I thought, what if she didn't come.  What if she was gone.  Too painful to imagine and I had to stop.  But there are so many families who can't just stop the thoughts.  It's their reality.

I think of the first responders - the images that they saw.  Horrifying.  I think about the kids who survived, but who have memories of such a traumatic experience.  If not properly dealt with, this experience can breed anxiety disorders and a life shadowed by fear.  I've been praying desperately that this is not the case and that everyone involved will get all the physical and emotional care they need in order to heal from this awful day.

Philippians 3:20 says that "our citizenship is in heaven".  That is our true home.  Events like these make me homesick for heaven and for the time when "the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. . . He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21: 3,4).  Thankfully, that day is coming.  And events like this will be a distant memory.  God will make all things new and right.

This is what gives me hope.

In the mean time,  God promises to be with us.  And this is the very thing we celebrate during this Christmas season - that God became one of us.  

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, 'God with us.'”  Matthew 1:23

Jesus came then, He continues to be with us (Matthew 28:20), and He will come again (Acts 1:11).

I'm so thankful for these promises.