Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas #3 and #4

Jeremy’s brother’s family and his sister’s husband all flew in on Christmas day.  So, after church, I took over brocolli cheese soup, blueberry muffins, veggies, and cookies.  It was good to see everyone and meet Miles for the first time.  We just hung out for the remainder of the day.  The cousins had fun getting to know each other again.  Madison and Theo drove cars over ticklish Ellie who asked for them to do it again and again!  Miles was fun and smiley.  It was relaxing.  It was especially nice as we left that night, that we only had to drive for about 2 minutes to get home from his mom’s instead of 20 minutes!

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The next morning around 9am, we gathered for Christmas brunch – egg casserole, baked oatmeal, and cinnamon rolls.  It was delicious.  We had Christams afterwards.  The cousins give each other gifts each year.  Madison received extra Lego blocks to create with, and Ellie got a Lambie to cuddle with.  Jen made a memory game that had pictures of things that would remind the girls of Papa Yoh – safety first, Rudy Ruritan, fair tickets, etc.  It was really neat, and as they get older, they will appreciate the meaning of this more.  The girls received Paper Doll blankets from Gloria.  They are small quilts with a girl appliqued on it.  Then there are velcro pieces to attach different clothes to.  It is a unique idea.  They also got sketchbooks, colored pencils, and how-to-draw books with simple steps.  These have been a hit!  They drew the pictures at the Bricker Christmas, later the next day, and during the breaks at a wrestling match.  It is so neat to see how they can create animals out of these simple pictures.

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We came home and built Legos for about 2 hours before we needed to leave for the Bricker Christmas.  I had prepped the food I was taking that morning so that I could actually build Legos with the girls.  I had put them off the previous day because I was getting food ready, so I wanted to be able to answer questions they had been asking while I was cooking.  They had both done an amazing job following directions.  Madison pretty much completed her entire set by herself.  Ellie had made it with few mistakes about halfway through her set; impressive because it is for older kids. 

We headed to lunch at Marianne and David’s house.  It is always so inviting there, and Marianne works hard to make it ready for everyone’s arrival.  It is a labor of love each holiday.  There is a cousin exchange here among Jeremy’s cousins, and the adults exchange gifts as well.  It is fun to see what gifts show up – some quirky, some intentionally silly, and some spot-on for the person.  As is tradition, the girls (or great-grandkids) pass out the gifts. There is also a lot of laughter, talking, and memories made here.  It is good for the girls to be a part of this bigger family environment.  They don’t get to see extended family on my side of the family – not because we don’t get along (we do!), but because of the distance we live from all of them. 

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We spent most of this past week between our house and Gloria’s.  It is good to soak up as much family time as possible, and since Jeremy’s siblings live out of state, we take what we can get.  I am thankful for the effort both famillies make to come as frequently as they can.  It is quite a trip for both of them.  On Thursday, Gloria hosted a pizza party and “Aunt Jane’s BINGO night”.  There were about 30 people there eating, talking, and playing an untraditional BINGO with decks of cards and a slew of interesting gifts/prizes to choose from.  It was a good night.  Theo and the girls enjoyed shuffleboard and running up and down the room.

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I think this may be it for this year, unless I manage to post about Madison’s birthday tomorrow night.  Until then…

Christmas #2

This was our family Christmas.  We debated when to have this.  I am glad our church chose to have a service on Christmas day, I just wish it would have been at 9:30 (as normal) instead of 10:30.  But, in the end, it worked out.  We decided to open gifts before church.  The girls still believe in Santa, and while I don’t embrace the idea, I don’t nip it in the bud either.  Jeremy likes leaving at least one gift unwrapped each year; sometimes we do this, sometimes we don’t.  It meant the girls had to wait for us before going to the tree.  It is good to learn patience, right?

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They found the American girls bunk beds.  My plan is to help them make a little mattress for the beds with a sheet to match.  We will see how good my sewing straight skills really are… or how much my mom can help!

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They also got some fun pajamas, socks, and clothes or match to your doll clothes.  They each got a new animal stocking hat as well.  (Somehow I missed getting a picture of Ellie in her panda hat.)  It was just enough, but not enough to feel excessive. 

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The keep ‘em busy gifts were Lego sets.  They really enjoyed these.  They didn’t enjoy that they had to squeeze in building it between all our comings and goings over the next couple days.  In the end it worked well. 

Advent #3

Final Advent post…

Day 17: Celebrate with the Edigers.  See previous post for details.

Day 18: Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn. We watched Prep and Landing.  There were two 20 minute features.  I really enjoyed them.  It was about these elves who prepare the house for Santa to enter and the roof for the landing strip.  Both features are pretty cute.

Day 19: Stuff and stamp Christmas cards.  Truthfully, I mostly put this on there so I am motivated to get this done each year.  Since we didn’t take the official picture til Day 17, I didn’t have time to actually have it all ready to go by this day.  Ellie and I did go get the stamps for the cards.  I worked on this project by myself, even though the girls usually don’t mind putting the stickers on (labels and stamps).  The girls were playing with antlers and exclaiming how cool they were, so I snapped a quick picture!

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Also, on Day 19, my dad had back surgery.  I should know the number, I think it his 6th back surgery.  He has been in severe pain since early October.  We are hoping this surgery will bring back some mobility so he can get back to doing some things that brought him joy, and gave him the opportunity to minister to others.  The surgery was as successful as they could have hoped.  We will see how the healing progresses and where we are at 6 months from now.  Please be in prayer for him.

Also on Day 19, Jeremy’s mom moved into her new home.  The movers loaded and unloaded two trucks of furniture and boxes.  Jennifer flew in to help Gloria unpack enough to be settled in time for Christmas.  There will still be work to do, but this was a huge start.

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Day 20: Eat snowman pancakes for supper.  This one is anticipated all year long.  I think it is because they get to put candy on their pancakes.  It is a fun meal…and easy to do.

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Also on Day 20, Madison celebrated Grinch Day in 1st grade.  They could either wear green for the Grinch or dress up as a person in Who-ville.  I found some stellar clothes for her to wear from MCC Connections, and a fantastic hairstyle to complete the outfit.  She was adorable.

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Day 21: Look at Christmas lights.  We took a walk around the lights down the road from us.  It is a fun stop and easy to do.  One year, we will have to venture to bigger things like Akron Zoo or Stan Hywet. 

Day 22: Make Cookies.  They like this one, and they are getting good at it.  So good, in fact, that it doesn’t take as long as I think it will.  I made a double batch this year, and it made 50 cut-outs.  I think it was about the perfect amount.

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Day 23: Decorate cookies.  They enjoy this even better than cutting out the cookies.  Again, they are getting good at it.  I don’t really like frosting anything, so I am glad they enjoy it.  This year they were creative – adding different colors to the same cookie, drizzling the icing, and sprinkling in patches.  It is fun to watch.

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Day 24: Go to the Christmas Eve service.  While we would do this regardless, it is a special time.  The church was very full this year.  The music was worshipful.  Madison sang in the children’s choir.  Both girls enjoyed being able to wear their Christmas dresses. 

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Day 25: Celebrate Christmas with your family.  See next post.

And that was the Advent season.  I will continue this tradition as they get older.  Maybe as they age, I will have them come up with additional ideas and then put them in the calendar randomly to surprise them.  I would encourage families to use Advent to be intentional about being a family, serving those in the community, and creating memories.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas #1

This was a throwback Christmas year with the Edigers.  Back to 2011.  Check out this post.  We headed to Nate and Jen’s house on Friday for taco night and a sleepover.  While we got their late (because I forgot to pack half the things we needed for our super secret Christmas gift for the kids…), we had a great evening.  The kids didn’t get to bed til about 10pm, but they were no worse for the wear the next day.  I was woken up by Madison at 6:45, so we snuck downstairs and played quietly til others started joining us. 

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After a hearty breakfast – cinnamon rolls (thanks, Sophie!), coffee cake, egg casserole, and fruit – we transitioned to the living room for Christmas.  We took family pictures before officially starting the Christmas festivities.

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The boys took turns reading the Christmas story from the Bible.

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Then, we started with the gifts.  The cousins do a name exchange.  Madison got a fish tank this year, and money to buy a Betta fish.  She was pretty excited about it.  Ellie got a BIG coloring book and some gel pens to write on her black paper with. 

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Then, Grandma and Grandpa gave the grandkids their gifts.  Ellie was very happy with a horse for her doll.  Madison loved the bike basket and matching clothes to wear with her doll. 

Then, can the BIG surprise… in their stockings!  They pulled out swimsuits.  Many of the younger ones shouted things like, “This matches my stationery I got!” “This looks just like my suit.”  The older two or three picked up on the similarities to the last time this had happened.  Grandma explained that the suits meant we got to go to Splash Harbor to play and for a night in a hotel.  Then the kids got really excited… and really loud!!!

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We cleaned up, packed up, and cleared out by mid-afternoon.  The kids waited patiently for us to get checked in.

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The rest of the day was spent swimming,

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shooting hoops, playing volleyball, and throwing balls at each other,

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sliding,

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conquering the starfish,

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laughing and planning supper,

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hot tubs and spray pad. 

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We had a pizza party, showered, and hung in the rooms before another later night.  All worth it. 

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The next morning, we had breakfast before the kids headed to the pool one last time.  We had lunch at Wendy’s and went our separate ways.

We were thankful that we were able to travel on the roads during breaks in weather.  There was ice and freezing rain, but during our travel times, it had cleared up and the road crews had done a good job staying on top of it.  The men, who went out to load the cars, just had a job on their hands de-icing all the vehicles.  It was a great Christmas.