Friday, December 28, 2007

Welcoming Lyric

This is beautiful.

The Bratrudes are close friends of my sister and her family. In November 2006, Tiffany lost twin girls when she was 5 months pregnant. On December 7, 2007, they welcomed Lyric James into their family. The video above is their tribute to Lyric and their girls, Faith and Sage. Just beautiful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

As promised...

More Christmas photos:

Post-Christmas recap

Another Christmas has come and gone. Hard to believe. This was definitely one of my favorite holiday seasons ever. Max was really aware of what was going on this year and his excitement was contagious. He loved going out looking at Christmas lights and would constantly be yelling from the back seat, "Oh guys...check this out! Look at this one! Oh WOW!!" His favorite things to point out were candy canes, santas and frosties (snowmen). He also participated more in our Advent celebrations every Sunday night. As was tradition for me growing up, every Sunday of Advent our family sits down together and reads a portion of the Christmas story. We then light the corresponding candle (Gospel, Faith, Hope, Love and Immanuel) and build our nativity scene week by week (first the animals, then Mary & Joseph, then the shepherds, then the Wise Men, and finally Jesus) Finally we end the night by singing Christmas carols. Max wouldn't sing along, but had many requests and did eventually bring out his "jingle bells" to shake while we sang. It was a nice way to keep the focus on Christ and off all the presents each week.

On Christmas Eve we headed over to my parents for what has become a wonderful tradition for us--family, food, presents, lighting the final candle of Advent. I love doing this because it reminds me of the happy Christmas Eves I spent at my Besta & Papa's house. It brings me such joy knowing that Max and Gus will have the same sort of memories. I don't think I've ever felt safer, happier or more cozy than those late nights cuddled up in the back seat of my parents' car, tucked in a new blanket, coming home from Besta & Papa's. I'd gaze out the window to try and catch a glimpse of Rudolph's red nose, which many a blinking tower light became. When my Besta was dying years ago, I remember visiting her in her hospital room. She was unconscious and slipping away and I felt paralyzed. I couldn't say goodbye. Shortly after her death I sat down to write some memories of her and I found myself writing about Christmas Eve and how magical she made it. I left it on her gravesite as my way of saying thank you, i love you, goodbye...

Here is a photo of the boys on Christmas Eve:

Christmas morning was spent at home, just as our small family. The boys came and snuggled in bed with me while Daddy went out to check and see if Santa came and turn on the Christmas lights, make coffee and light the "fire" (candles in our fireplace). After we got the okay, we all went out and opened our stockings. Max had a "Wow" or "Cool" for nearly everything (except Finding Nemo which apparently is "too scary" for him to like). Check out Daddy & Max opening a present:

Santa came through and brought Max what he asked for...a foam finger to take to the baseball game. Who knew $7 could make a kid so happy! Max wanted to try out everything he got right then & there, which lead to us changing his sheets and him taking a quick break in his bed:

After presents were finished I did this to Gus:

I simply couldn't help myself. He's so darn cute! He'll probably want to kill me someday, but it was worth it!

Our day continued when we headed over to Mark's sister Olivia's house for more food, family and presents. This has become another wonderful tradition and Max simply adores his cousins, Trenton and Tea. They play so well together. Max had an absolute blast. He also got to spend time with his Mom-Mom and Grandad, two more favorite people! His favorite activity of the day was to play in a cardboard box (why bother with toys??). I'll post photos of that soon. Poor Gus had a cold and he hung in there like a trooper.

We headed out from Olivia's to our friends Dave and Jessica's house for a ham dinner with them and our friends Paul and ShaiLee. Max got to play with Sylvia and Riley, two good friends. On our way there we got caught in traffic and discovered that earlier in the day a trooper had shot and killed a man on I-5 who had gotten out of his vehicle, taken off his clothes and was running around on the freeway trying to cause accidents. He began choking and beating the trooper who arrived at the scene and after many attempts to calm him down, the trooper finally shot him. It was a terrible reminder that life keeps moving, even on Christmas. I tend to feel like the whole world stops for one day and we all just come together in our warm homes with those we love, surrounded by amazing food and so much laughter. But it isn't that way for everyone and it was a jolt back to reality for those seemingly endless 45 minutes that we spent inching along the road. I much prefer the stopped-world to the real one.

Little eyelids were heavy by the end of the night, but even through the sleepiness their eyes sparkled. It was a wonderful that I will long that will continually cause me to smile and count my blessings.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Celebrating 30 in style

Yesterday I turned 30 and celebrated with a wonderful cocktail party. Our house looked so beautiful! I wish it could look so pretty all the time, but that's not exactly practical with two little ones.

My wonderful husband convinced me to throw this little soiree & I'm so glad he did. Normally I don't like doing anything that requires me to be the center of attention, but 30 is a big one and I'm glad we did it right. Thank you Mark!

We had about 30 people join us, including these two lovely ladies, Tera and Katie. I am so grateful for all of my friends and feel so blessed to have them in my life.

Here's a few more "mood" shots. I just think they are so pretty! What a wonderful night. Being 30 isn't so bad after all!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Max's eye view

Mark and Max gave me a new digital camera for Mother's Day, so I decided to let Max use our old camera to start learning how to shoot photos. I didn't want to give him much instruction, aside from 'push this button', 'look through this hole'...things like that. I wanted his first photos to be truly from his point of view, not from a pushy mother's perspective. I didn't help him hold the camera, or tell him what to shoot. Below are a few of my favorites. It's very eye-opening to get a small glimpse into the world as Max sees it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sunday morning at Ama & Papa's

The boys and I recently stayed the night at my parents' house while Mark worked on installing our new dishwasher. I had to share these photos of Max. They are too cute!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So true...

I want this shirt.


Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. This year has tested my loyalty, with our basement flooding and other such disasters. However, joy has triumphed and I'm loving watching how excited Max is about all things Christmas. He's a boy after my own heart.

A couple weeks ago we went to Swanson's Nursery and got Max his very own tree. He decorated it himself and it turned out very well. It now sits in his room where he admires it first thing every morning.

We also got our Christmas tree for our living room. We had planned to go cut it down, but on the day we set aside to do so, it was pouring rain. In fact, it was the next morning that our poor housemate, Brian, woke up to a totally flooded bedroom. Dealing with the clean-up of that mess led me to exclaim one evening, "I need a Christmas!" So we ventured out in the dark to a lot near our house and picked out a big, slightly crooked tree. Max had such fun running through the trees in the lot. It was great to get our minds off our basement and just enjoy our boys and this great time of year.

Hooray for trees and the joy they provide!