Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wow. 2009 was a doozy, and 2010 is starting with a BANG.
I will share our family Christmas letter (leaving out any Christmas well-wishings) with you as it reflects what 2009 was like for us. At the end I have added some December happenings that didn't make the Christmas letter.

I will also share that we signed some papers today, visited and apartment building, and unless something goes awry in the next 20 days, WE HAVE SOLD OUR HOUSE! If you'd like to be praying, we need to FIND a house in the next 3 months, and if you want to take a BIG leap of faith, you can pray that the "perfect house" we did find but is under contract might still come available. Our realtor says that is still a possibility based on some information she has.

Dear Friends and Family,

Another busy year for us, but God has blessed us in many ways. I will attempt to take you through 2009, although much has happened.

In January we had a lot of snow, and quite a few snow days. We of course observe snow days because the teachers I babysit for have the day off, and therefore so do we. Snug loved playing outside in the snow, Little Monkey Man did not, and #1 loved all the snow blowing and shoveling he participated in. He enjoys getting up and spending his day working out, so I’m sure he saw these snowfalls as prime opportunities! January also brought an updated bathroom for us! My mom and dad came and helped us install new flooring, lighting and a bathtub! Previous to this, our children had been in a small plastic tub on the floor or in the shower with daddy. They both enjoy swimming in the tub almost daily.

February was very busy and not a great month for health in our home. #1 had been experiencing quite a bit of weight loss and fatigue which we later found out was due to Grave’s Disease, and Little Monkey had not gained weight/developed any motor skills since at least the end of October. We spent a good deal of time at doctor’s appointments, which is always fun in the dead of winter.

In March we had all the health problems “fixed”. #1 underwent a procedure that has him back to normal. He enjoys working out daily, playing with the boys, and his job as a patrol officer here in _____. Little Monkey was hospitalized for seven very long days, and we believe God healed him from Celiac Disease. He underwent a surgical procedure that the doctors believed confirmed that diagnosis, only to discover within twenty-four hours that he did not have it. Praise God! He went home with special dietary regulations and has been growing like a weed ever since. He also began regular speech and physical therapies which he is currently still participating in but catching up more and more every day!

In April we celebrated Easter and enjoyed beautiful weather. The kids spent quite a bit of time outside in the sunshine getting the winter wiggles out. Snug participated in an egg hunt at #1's mom’s work, and won first prize for the second year in a row. Our dogs were happy to see activity in the backyard which had been void of small people since the fall. Most of our winter play had been in the front yard where there was less chance of extra goodies hiding in the snow on winter boots. #1, Snug, and I also planted our first garden, which yielded great results. #1 was very excited in April to be accepted on the county SWAT team. He has only been called out once, but his trainings are very informative and exciting.

May was another busy month. We enjoyed our third annual trip to Virginia Beach for #1’s softball tournament. He has a great team and we enjoy traveling with them. Although the weather was rainy at times, it was fun to be out as a family and spend time together away. It was too cold to swim at the beach down in Virginia, but warm enough to pull out the baby pool and splash almost daily in Ohio!

June marked the end of Draycare for the school year and the beginning of parks! We visited several new and several old favorites. Snug also attended Vacation Bible School for the first time, which he loved. Little Monkey’s first birthday was in June, and he celebrated with lots of friends and family in our backyard. It was so exciting to see how God had blessed him in his first year, which was an unbelievably hard year.

July was family camp for us, and we enjoyed a week away from home and got to see Nathan and Danielle (my brother and sister-in-law) and parents. We don’t see Nathan and Danielle very often as they live in Florida and it was an unexpected surprise to get a week with them. A month earlier we didn’t know they would be joining us! Little Monkey didn’t really care one way or another if he was at camp, but Snug loved every moment of the trip and still talks about it. #1 had to return home to work, but the boys and I stayed in Michigan for two more weeks as I did counselor training with five girls who graduated and nine new girls. On the very last day in July #1 and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.

In August Snug turned three and I also had a birthday. Being three meant that he got to go to the dentist for the first time, which again, he just loved. I can’t say I was excited about my cleaning, but we were glad he was enthused! Snug is enthused about nearly everything. We were able to watch an Extreme Makeover home be built in our area and although we were not able to participate in/volunteer with the build, it was still very exciting. We went camping with #1’s family in central Ohio, where Snug enjoyed fishing with Grandpa. Topping the excitement list was that Little Monkey took his first step in August! He started officially walking in mid September.

Draycare started up in the end of August, but in September I started doing preschool with three of the kids, including Snug. Although I had done some supplemental activities with one of the kids who is now in kindergarten this year, this was my first time doing official three day a week set time sessions. We have a math and reading workbook that I use along with activities, stories, and projects of my choice. I have very much enjoyed getting back to teaching on a regular basis.

In September the kids and I participated in the second annual Zoo Walk for Huron Forest Camp Cherith (which will now be known as Huron Forest Camp CedarRidge). Both boys love animals, and it was a great day.

October is when autumn comes to Ohio. I’m aware that it technically starts in September, but the changing weather and colors wait until October for us. We took a trip to our local pumpkin farm for some fun in the straw, bounce house, and petting farm. I don’t remember where we got our pumpkins when I was little, but I am fairly sure we didn’t have all those amenities along with “the patch”. The boys enjoyed more nice weather and Little Monkey loved the piles of crunchy leaves. We knew Little Monkey Man had been having trouble hearing since the spring, along with multiple ear infections. He finally got tubes in his ears mid October and it was fun to see him discover noises he had never heard before. He also started using some sign language and saying a couple of words within a few weeks of the surgery!

Our house went on the market in November. Although we love our location and I love our house, with another baby on the way, we don’t think that two bedrooms and one bathroom is going to be practical in a few months. It is already a bit challenging with 2-5 extra children here besides our own a few hours each day, but once we have another one, we will have three who are here to stay all the time! We plan on staying in the area, so the move shouldn’t be too significant…just a bit stressful. Keeping the house clean and “perfect” all the time is proving to be no easy thing.
We spent Thanksgiving with Matt’s family complete with a parade (Blaze) of lights to start off the Christmas season.

And to the end of this letter, we can add that the house is now (in the process of being) sold! How exciting.

Also, as many of you know, but most of you do not, early December, just after this letter was mailed out, #1 was in a shooting at work while undercover. I had mentioned that something had happened at work, but until all investigations were finished, I really couldn't say anything. No one was hurt, and he is back to work as normal. Thank you for all of your prayers. I'm sorry that I can't provide more details, but this is the intranet and I must be careful.

See 2009 was QUITE the year :o) Happy New Year to all of you!!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Aftermath

I really should have saved this for a "Wordless Wednesday" I suppose. This is what my boys managed to do while I was on the phone with our realtor. Anyone else have this go on at their house? Ah, the aftermath of Christmas.

Oh, and I have to tell you something Snug said today. Lest I thought he paid no attention to what I tell him day in and day out, he let me know (when it is to his advantage) he most certainly IS paying attention. A neighbor gave him a little toy with some M&Ms in it for Christmas, and I told him today after his nap he could eat them. We have no where to go tonight so I figured it was as good of a time as any to let him have a sugar buzz. Well, he ate, he enjoyed, declared they were his "fravorites" and then ran around like a maniac.

About thirty minutes later Little Monkey was signing that he wanted something to eat, so I went to get him his post nap snack. Snug said he also wanted a snack, and I told him that he had already had one. He promptly replied "Candy is not a snack. It is a treat."

I stood and looked at him for probably 30 seconds and had to make a decision. Do I stick to the "one snack in the afternoon" rule and possibly give the appearance that candy could be a snack? Or, do I give in to the "one snack in the afternoon*" rule and enforce the "candy is NOT a snack option". Hmmmm. I gave in and let him have a snack.

He was right, at our house, junk food is not called or considered a snack, it is a treat. If you are VERY lucky, you get crackers as a snack. Otherwise snacks include; raisins, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh fruit, dried fruit, pistachios, almonds, or slices of veggies.

Don't you love it when your kids are right?

*I only let the boys have one snack in the afternoon because they typically get up from nap around 2:30 0r 3 and we eat dinner at 5:30. If I let them, they'd snack all afternoon and eat no dinner.

Monday, December 28, 2009

As Heard From My Livingroom...

"Don't touch 'Little Monkey'! It's boo-i-ful." (referring to the tree, used his real name)

"Hey! That is me, put me back on!" (when an ornament with Snug's picture was removed)

"Oh no! There's a cell phone! Better zoom!"

"uuk. uuk. uuk. aaauuuuuggghhhh. oooo. oooo. ooo." (guess who "said"' that?)

"What we having for Cert (dessert)"? (forget dinner, lets get to the good stuff!)

"I throwed some snowballs, we did some snowangels, and I didn't want to go inside, and I watched the 'grabbage' man. He picked all them up and shooted it in the truck and it drived away." (describing his time out in the snow with daddy to Lightning McQueen)

"Scuse me 'Little Monkey' I just playing with you. We just going to do this. SCUSE ME!!!!" (perhaps they are not playing the same game???)

I just wrote down what I heard them saying for about 20 minutes. Lots of sound effects came from Snug as he "zoomed" things around the living room and played with his cars, but Little Monkey only interjected one time with an outburst that, well, sounded lots like a small monkey might :o) Sometimes I like to just write down the things that Snug says, because I don't want to forget. He'll be big way too fast. Today I thought I'd share them.

Not Me...

Yes, yes, I realize that I have A) not done a 'Not me Monday" in ages and B) am using the old "Not Me Monday" button. I happen to not like the new one, and so I'm using the old one!

I haven't done a "Not Me" in forever because, well I think pregnancy brain just explains everything and I do dumb things all the time. However, this past week. Wow. I topped off my pregnancy brain big time with plain old dumb stuff!

I did not completely forget to wrap Snug (who is in LOVE with unwrapping) stocking stuffers so that when he dumped out his stocking there was a pile of little cars, a pad of notebook paper, applesauce, Fruitabu, and his ornament just laying there. The rest of us has nice little presents to open and he was a little bewildered. Not Me.

I did not feed my children leftover ham (thanks mom!) and Cheerios for Christmas dinner. After arriving home from MI there was not a veggie in the house, and I thought all the instant mashed potatoes were gone (and the real ones were smushy)...

...and after grocery shopping I did not find a brand new box of instant potatoes in the pantry. Not Me.

We did not arrive at church "barely on time" for Sunday School only to find out there wasn't any this week. We did not use the time between our arrival at church and the service actually starting to go grocery shopping.

I did not get equally (ok, ok ten times) as excited about the snow we are getting as Snug. I did not forget I was nearly 24 weeks pregnant when I made plans in my mind to play outside with Snug . Perhaps shoveling and romping should be left to daddy? I seriously forget ALL THE TIME that I am expecting. I seriously feel that good much of the time. Except I'm getting "fat".

I did not put my kids to bed at 6:45 one night because I was exhausted. When I realized what I had done, I did not go to bed myself at 7.

I did not fall in love with a house that would have been 99.8% of what we were looking for only to have it go off the market. I did not swear I would not get attached to a house and then not be able to buy it. Not Me.

I am sure there are many other things I have not done this week, but man!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!!

First up is my last installment of 25 Days of Christmas Ornaments. I missed yesterdays, but we were quite busy!
My last ornament is one that I made at a Sunday School Christmas party hosted by my very own Aunt Beth. I think it is the only homemade one I have on our tree from when I was a kid. Not a very young kid from the looks of the painting, pretty sure I couldn't do any better today if I tried! Merry Christmas, and remember that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas!

I uploaded my pictures backwards, so you're going to have to bear with me. Here are the boys under the tree this morning. We do stockings, then breakfast, then presents. Little Monkey has no interest in unwrapping anything...Snug wants to unwrap everything. Unfortunately for him I accidentally forgot to wrap his stocking stuffers. We use leftover scraps from wrapping presents, and I'm not sure what on earth I was thinking, but his were all just stuffed in his stocking. Little Monkey's were all wrapped individually so I had to unwrap them again. Crazy me. Stocking stuffers for us are things like a new toothbrush, tic-tacs, socks, small cars, chapstick, and a new ornament.

#1 shows off an "energy shot" he got in his stocking. I don't know why he liked them so much, but he was happy to get them.

All Snug had asked for for Christmas was a Jack-in-the-box. He was thrilled to get one from Little Monkey. Snug picked out a book and paid for it himself for Little Monkey, but mommy and daddy helped with this gift for him.

I got this Melissa & Doug firetruck off of Craigslist a couple of years ago and saved it. It is in perfect condition, and I got an awesome deal on it. I think I need to dust it, but Monkey didn't notice.

Snug got a Leap Pad from our neighbor last year, he had outgrown it. I found a Cars book that works with it and he spent a good forty minutes on my lap playing with it. We have a s l o w Christmas morning because we let the kids open something, play with it, and then open something when they are ready. #1 and I open gifts from each other in between and it is very leisurely.

Yes, yes, I know I hardly ever show my face on here. I prefer it that way!

Ok, back now to Christmas Eve. Yesterday morning we celebrated Christmas with my family. Here are the boys under their tree.

As we were opening gifts, someone was tired, laid down, and ended up with a bow on his back. It was so cute.
Little Monkey got a bead stringing set from Uncle Nathan and Aunt Danielle. He had a good time playing with all of the pieces. The beads are nice and big so I don't have to worry about him eating them. I do not know how I missed getting a picture of it, but he also got this monkey puppet that he is in love with. I"ll have to do a video to show you just how MUCH he loves it.
"Helping" Aunt Danielle open her gifts.

Giving gifts to Grandmommy and Pop Pop.

Ok, now we are back to Dec. 23. This is the afternoon that #1 got to come to Michigan with us! He had a very short 2 days off/with us in MI. Snug enjoyed extra attention from Aunt Beth as they did puzzles together. Grandmommy used to be a Pre K and Kindergarten teacher, so she has lots of neat puzzles/games/toys at her house.

This is a rare picture. Little Monkey hardly ever ever ever lets anyone hold/rock him, but he cuddled right up!

Extra adults in the house mean extra people who can read. Snug got to hear old favorites and some new ones he got as gifts....over...and over...and over...and over...

Oh, this is too cute. Pop Pop cut out houses, a barn, trees, fences, cars, and a couple of animals for the boys' train table. Snug loved watching him work in the wood shop. Later, when the boys had a nap, we all took turns painting the pieces. I don't have a picture of the finished product, but they were so cute!

And once you are done in the wood shop, you have to clean up!
We had a great time in Michigan, and it was so nice to see family, but we are also glad to be back home and enjoy Christmas in our own house...our last Christmas in this house!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

25 Days of Christmas Dec 23

Oh we are having SUCH fun, and now daddy has joined our family so I feel much more complete. I love being in Michigan, but it means extended time away from him. The boys were very happy to see him after naps today too.

Today's ornament for Mama Bear's carnival is an ornament I got in high school from my friend Anna. I don't even think Anna's family celebrated Christmas, at least not traditionally with trees and gifts. Help me out here Megan, does my memory fail me? Anyway, this ornament is very shiny and pretty on my tree, and is another one that my kids can touch and I have no worries about. I also love remembering back to high school and the friendships I had...some I still have!

"House News" was in yesterday's post...we have an offer, but we counter offered due to some...stuff. Well it was close to what we wanted, but not quite. They had some things they wanted that didn't seem quite fair. We'll see what happens, but I doubt we'll know until after Christmas. You can pray that we find a house we would like to live in...of all the houses we had on a list to see should we get an offer, all but one or 2 have sold and those that are left we had already decided wouldn't be good options for our family. There is one more that we found, but we don't know much about it...maybe the one, maybe not. We do NOT want to move into a house just to move. That was NOT the reason we put our house up for sale, it was so that we could live somewhere that would fit our family for a long time. Always exciting!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love From Michigan

Well I just posted my 25 Days of Christmas ornaments post here, and now I will show you some pictures of what we are up to!Saturday was a lot of travel and we were all pretty tired. the drive is not easy on the kids, or on preggo mommy, but we arrived safe and sound and the boys did great. Sunday after church was my dad's side of the family Christmas. I was pretty excited to know I hadn't missed it. Here is Little Monkey and Grayson playing in their cousin's play kitchen.

Snug enjoyed the other cousin's toys as well. The kids all played together pretty well for only seeing each other maybe twice a year! My Grandma had five children (all at the party!) and those five children had 10 grandchildren (not all at the party). Those 10 grandchildren have had to date 15 great-grandchildren. Hannah will be #16, and we have no doubt the number will total at least 20 by the time we are done. What a legacy!
Here are seven of the 15!
These two little birdies had their mouths WIDE open for a bite!
Cousins are always a favorite part of this trip.
We've been reading lots of stories. Uncle Nathan is always up for a good snuggle.
This boy has been smiling and smiling and smiling.
My parents also have a really nice play area at their mall that we took advantage of with my cousin Melissa and her kids.
Sorry about the pants, we're having trouble with snaps these days, probably time for a bigger size. The mall and shopping were Monday's activities.

Today we headed out to Canterbury Village to look in their Christmas store and ride the carousel. This hedgehog (?) was telling the story of Snow White and it was all animated. Great distraction while we shopped.
The morning ended with a ride on an old carousel. Children under 4 had to have an adult, but the adult was free. Too bad the horses are too small for adults to ride!
This was Snug's favorite. I bought him a new winter coat (and hat) at Goodwill yesterday, because the zipper on his other coat was completely broken. The entire set seen here was less than $10. I love a bargain!
This afternoon started with some sledding alongside Aunt Danielle. They were ready for a hot soup lunch. I don't know who was more excited to play in the snow, Snug or Florida native Danielle!

Lots more planned for the next couple of days, but #1 just called to say we have "house news" so I might not be posting for awhile!!!!!!

25 Days of Christmas, WAY Behind

I don't even have Mama Bear's cute button to post. I'm in Michigan, and this afternoon was the first time I had access to a computer. This ornament is one of Snug's. He got it last year (?) from Uncle Nathan and Aunt Danielle. A very Veggie Christmas for him!
This one (see, I am a few days behind) is one that I got for #1. I showed another police ornament a few days ago. I try to get him one every year, and actually found one today (ssshhhhh) for next year!
Can you guess who this one belongs to? Of course it belongs to our own Little Monkey! If you didn't know, sock monkeys are kinda his trademark. Wait till you see the woolies diaper cover he is getting for Christmas. TOO cute.

Ok, I'm going to link this to Mama Bear's blog and then maybe get a chance to post some pictures of what we've been up to here in Michigan!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

25 Days of Christmas Dec. 19 & Top 5 Reasons

Shoot on over to Mama Bear's page real quick and check out other people's ornaments. There are always some neat Christmas stories behind them. Most are much much more sentimental than mine!
I have two ornaments like this, and my mom has the other two. I believe she bought the box and split it with me one year. I just think it is really cute! I'll have to look for hers on her tree LATER TODAY!
Yep, we are headed to the great white north (although we did get an inch overnight!) to spend some time with my mom and dad and my brother and sister-in-law. We will also get to see extended family at a party tomorrow and I am really excited about that too!
Here are my Top 5 Reasons I need to GET OUT OF OHIO
5. Snug was convinced last night that because people were "in our house" (had another showing) last night that he was going to have to sleep in a barn (you know, like Baby Jesus) and that animals were going to lick his feet. He wasn't happy. I can't WAIT to get away from realty stuff.
4. Except for the itty bitty bit we got last night, there really is NO snow here.
3. I will get to see lots of family I hardly ever ever see...the ratio of small children to adults is usually 5:2 here. In Michigan it will be at least 2:5, many times the adult number even higher. YEAH!
2. I am convinced that leaving the state will make us all healthy. This month has been sick sick sick! Perhaps we need some clean northern (but kinda close to Pontiac/Detroit so probably NOT so clean) air.
1. I need some WOLVERINE fans!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

FOP Christmas Party 2009

The first week of December, when we were all healthy, #1's lodge had a Christmas party. I just never posted pictures, because from there on out things got a little hectic around here. I will give you the party from both boy's perspectives...or what I believe to be their perspectives.

Ok, so sometimes I decide I am too big for naps, so I choose instead to do all sorts of thing to entertain myself/my brother and keep us both awake. It really is a riot until the night I had to stay up later than normal and behave around my daddy's, that was a bad move.
We went to this party where they had many of my favorite junk foods, but I was so tired, as I ate I cried through the entire meal. Perhaps part of the reason I cried is that I remember last year oh so well when a little girl in the food line behind me wet her pants all over because she waited too long to go to the bathroom. It is hard to follow up that kind of entertainment from year to year I suppose. This year I was asked by my mother to sit and sing Christmas carols with the other 50+ children. I was just too depressed.

And so then my mommy decided to bribe me with an M&M because, well, quite frankly I was starting to cause a scene blubbering through "Jingle Bells". It worked for awhile, and had I believed in Santa (I don't) that might have worked too, because he was about to make his entrance.

Now a present is worth smiling for. I was about the fifth name called, because I am just lucky (do you know how many raffles/contests/etc. I have won in my short lifetime???). All the other children had taken & would take
Option A: Sit nicely, have your picture taken, and then go unwrap your present
Option B: Scream at Santa, squirm, and run for mommy.
Being the inventive child that I am, I chose Option C: None of the above.
Option C is jump into Santa's lap almost dumping him over, then ignore him all together, rip the paper off the present instead of sitting nicely for a photograph, hand Santa the paper, and run off the stage. Isn't that a fun option? I thought so.

I guess it is better than Option D which I chose last year which was to wet my pants when Santa tried to talk to me*. Mommy thought this was a better option, but would choose A for me next year.
Because my behavior in general was SO great, as soon as my brother's name was called and he got his gift, we skedaddled home to bed.
*not the FOP Santa, a different one. If 2 kids had wet their pants at one party we may not have had another one this year.

Little Monkey:
Have YOU EVER been to a Christmas party with 50+ children under the age of 12???? OH MY GOODNESS was that a blast. My brother kept crying and I just couldn't sit still. I crammed my mouth full of the most delicious stuff my mother has never made for me, and demanded more!
DO YOU SEE THIS TREE???? There is no babygate around it, and there was no one around to tell me NO every time I touched it. This party ROCKS!
Speaking of 50+ children, do you KNOW what it sounds like when they all sing/yell/run/talk at the same time? Wow, it is glorious. I laid on the floor and let them step on me, I grabbed unsuspecting little girls' hair, and I ran around like a madman. This folks, is what Christmas is all about!

The singing of Christmas carols was not my favorite part, so I chose instead to walk around the stage area and check everyone out. If you didn't pay attention to me, I gave you the evil eye. Good times.

But then the fun ended. Not only did my mother apparently not snap my pants well enough before I went on stage, this guy tried to hold me. HELLO STRANGER DANGER! I was having none of that. I believe I was given a present which my mother made my dad return to Wal-Mart ASAP*, but I was too busy to really notice, and then was whisked out the door and to bed. I cannot WAIT for more holiday parties!
*the gift was a small plinky piano that was LOUD. Mommy had it exchanged for a travel size Magnadoodle. I know, she is a spoil sport.

25 Days of Christmas Dec. 18

Oh my, it is the 18th of December. I think if nothing else, this has shown me how FAST December goes. Thanks Mama Bear for the idea and including all of us!
This is another homemade ornament. He is a cinnamon stick that I painted a little face on, and glued some cotton ball on. A little thread keeps him attached to the tree. Well, he and about 10 friends just like him.