Saturday, December 31, 2016

Graydon is Eight!

Graydon is EIGHT today!









One big thing that changed about Graydon this year is his appearance. He lost his top four teeth (among others) and with his adult teeth growing in, he definitely looks a lot older than he did last year at this time. One other thing that changed is that he has become an early riser. Some time during this past year, he realized that if he got up early and got ready quickly, then there would be time left to watch a show or play a game. We've also guided him toward using some of that time to do his devotional and read his Bible. He asked for an alarm clock for Christmas and he received one; though his internal clock is pretty set, he may not even need it. 

He is really motivated to make money, so he often does a lot of extra chores. But money burns a hole in his pocket and he really likes to get things. We don't always let him spend his money, but he is always thinking of the next thing that he wants to get. We're working on the joy of giving and also trying to explain how fleeting the excitement is when getting something new.  

He loves being silly and trying to make people laugh. And he loves to get his back scratched at night. He's great at playing with Mabel and school still comes pretty easily. He's pretty open with trying new food and cleans his plate almost every night. 

He still likes trying to build things and finds "treasure" wherever he goes. Case in point: we were at the farm this summer. While Bella and Curtis were looking at the animals, Graydon was off in the junk pile that was just waiting to be burned. "I'm looking for treasure!" And he found some! He was in heaven when we went to the building site of Auntie Mary's new house. He came back with all sorts of wood and plastic pipe pieces. The wheels in his head are always turning! Right now, he really wants to build a robot.

I am so thankful for our Grady-Boy. He brings us joy every day. Happy Birthday, Graydon! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve and Day

Christmas Eve was a pretty relaxing day. I spent some time reading a book and we watched some movies. Our first Christmas Eve service was at 6pm. The kids always clean up really nice.

I experimented with my camera settings on some of these photos and it made the lights twinkle.

I'm sure it's a drag for them when I make them get their photos taken, but they're pretty good sports about it. I think they're used to me by now. :)

This was our first Christmas with a fireplace. I was so happy to hang those stockings on the mantle.

The kids after the Christmas Eve church service.

One of these years, I'm going to try and get a photo of the candlelight part of our service. I'm always sitting on my own with the kids and we are each holding our own candle, so of course my eyes are glued on them, making sure they don't accidentally start the church on fire. But it is so pretty and I'd love to have a picture of it - especially of the kids holding their candles.

Annual family Christmas Eve picture.

Santa arrived around 12:30 on Christmas morning. There were a few bigger gifts this year!

The kids woke up around 7am. The sky was still dark.

We opened our last Advent box. Our activities change from year to year, but on Christmas Day it is always the same: light a candle and sing 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus. (Normally, I hang our boxes on a little tree. But with Mabel joining our family, I knew that these would be too tempting for her).

Jesus's birthday candle.

Patiently waiting.

We took the kids shopping individually this year and they were each able to purchase $5 gifts for their siblings. They had so much fun giving their gifts.

Bella received a bracelet craft box from Graydon and chocolates from Curtis.
Graydon received a dry erase board and markers from Bella and Yo Kai medals from Curtis.
Curtis received a cat pillow from Bella and a Transformer from Graydon.

This photo turned out a little darker and grainy, but I love Curtis's face in it.


We went youngest to oldest this year, so Curtis got to open the first of the main gifts. He got a flying minecraft ghost.

Graydon's big gift: BB-8 from Star Wars.


Bella got a light-up letter B to put in her room.

A new pokemon watch for Curtis.

Graydon was really excited to open up this phlat ball.

New bedding for Bella.

Some new legos for this guy.

Opening up the alarm clock that he asked for.

This package contained some new boots for Bella.

This is a gift basket that Bella made for Andy. It contained homemade chocolate chip cookies that she made the day before, freshly squeezed orange juice that she squeezed that morning, a Packer logo perler bead creation, and a drawing of Andy's car. She did such a great job with it.

She knit me these socks. She also painted a snowflake ornament for me. My photo of it turned out too dark, but it is really pretty.

Curtis also got little gifts for each of us. He was given a dollar coupon for the Holiday Shop at school and stretched that dollar to get something for each of us: Andy got a ring, Bella a foam airplane to build, Graydon a sticky guy, and me a little storage bin. I was so touched that he used that dollar to buy stuff for us.

Then it was time for Andy and I to exchange our gifts. He got me flannel sheets, a wok, winter boots, and a gift certificate for an hour long massage. I am spoiled! I got him new gloves, a Packer mug, tool kit, magnetic flash light, oil diffuser, and gift certificates for a car wash. I often forget what gifts we give and receive from year to year, so I thought I would try to start writing them down.

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we went to church after our gift opening. The kids got to wear pajamas and the adults wore crazy Christmas sweaters. Then we had cookies and hot chocolate after. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing. We watched 'The Grinch' and played a game of Clue. Then it was time to clean and pack for our trip to Wisconsin. Tomorrow is December 26th, but Christmas is just getting started for us!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


The kids had their school Christmas program.

I had a helper with Christmas cards this year.

Mabel's first snow! She doens't like going out in the rain, but snow is a different story. She loves it (and loves to eat it).

The kids were excited too!

Bella used up pretty much all of the snow in this area to build her fort.

Our faceless snowman.

We volunteered to ring bells this season.

Cub Scouts


The Cub Scouts helped to serve a spaghetti dinner for meal site at our church.

Our living room looks so pretty at night.

We've had some fun "elf"ing ourselves.

This second one made me laugh so much when I saw that they paired up Graydon and Curtis as dance partners!

We decorated some Christmas cookies this past weekend.


And had our Christmas program at church.

Just a few more days until Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bella's 11th Birthday Celebration

I'm backtracking a little bit here as I never put up photos from Bella's birthday.

We had our first celebration when some of the Benetti family was down after Thanksgiving. We had birthday pumpkin bars.


On her actual birthday, Andy made her some eggs and she enjoyed breakfast by the fire.

And a foot rub!

She had basketball practice that evening, but we went out to eat afterward at Max & Erma's. Dinner was then followed by homemade ice cream cake.

The Saturday evening after her birthday, she invited a few friends over to celebrate. We started the evening off with bowling.



The boys had their own lane.



When we got back to our house, we tie dyed some shirts in the basement.

The girls made a fort to sleep in.

And just like that, we have an ELEVEN-year-old!