Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Rest of December...

The rest of December consisted of a week and a half long trip up to the good ol' U.P. It was absolutely perfect. I know, I know...too many pictures. Way too many. But this is for our close family who weren't able to celebrate with us. (I included 28, yes 28, pictures to better help you feel like you were there with us. :-) Above: Anna and Benjamin Christmas morning at my parent's house. Sweeties!

First: Anna trying on the "Rock Star" outfit she got from Santa. Hmm, how did he know? Actually, I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what a rock star is, but she had a pretty good idea of how to act once she was all decked out. Second pic: Daddy and Mommy helping Anna open her stocking. Third: A very, very happy Ben. You can see his two little teeth pretty well in this pic. Last: Anna hiding under my parent's Christmas tree. Who needs toys when there are hundreds of ornaments around?

Christmas Eve at the Rayhorn's. First: Anna and her "own cousin Rorie." It was sooooooo good to see Meg, Jake and Rorie. Such a sweet little family. Meg and Rorie actually flew into Detroit and drove up to MQT with us. Ethan is driving them back to the airport right now. :-( Very fun times when the cousins can play together. Second Picture: Jake, Meg, and Rorie. Third: Ethan and Jake checking on-line for something...perhaps Santa's route?

First: Auntie Ashley with Rorie and Ben-Ben on Christmas Eve. Second: My sweetie, Ethan, and I on Christmas morning. Third: Rorie and Benjamin in their matching pjs from Gma Melissa and Gpa Chuck.

Ben and Anna in all their Christmastime adorableness. Rayhorn's house, Christmas Eve?
Benjamin got some quality time with his grandparents during this visit. First: Gpa Chuck feeding Ben part of a bagel. Do you notice him eyeing the bread, mouth open, just wishing he could somehow get to it. (Another good tooth shot.) Second: Gma Melissa and Ben-Ben on Sunday. Third: Gpa Dewey and Benjamin lounging on Christmas morning.

First: Anna helping Gpa Dew decorate the tree. Second: Ethan and Anna - an early morning snowball fight. Third: Gma Susan, Anna and I opening presents at the LaJoice gathering on Christmas Eve.

First: Our attempt at a Christmas morning family picture...maybe next year. :-) Second: Anna playing with some of the presents she got at Gma Melissa and Gpa Chuck's house. What a lucky girl. Third: Ben-Ben on Christmas morning at the Rayhorn's.
All right people, this is the're almost there. Above is the dress Anna's Granny Lee sent Anna. It is the most "fancy" dress Anna has ever owned and looked beautiful on her. Thanks Granny! We've been checking out the Fancy Nancy books from the library and Anna is very much into that right now.
First: Anna sledding on Christmas day night. She almost ran over Ethan in this picture. On one slide down the hill, Anna and I got "stuck" under a big pine tree. She loved it! Second: I had a little gathering with some high school friends at my mom's house. Very fun to catch up with each other. Third: The jelly bean puzzle at the Rayhorn's with my sister's fam and Ethan, Ben and KC. Unfortunately, this one didn't catch on like last year's puzzle, and I think we only finished the border and a few random groupings. Hopefully we can redeem ourselves next year.

Besides stuffing ourselves with delicious food day after day (yeah, it was rough), spending quality time with the fam, and discussing Rorie (tiny) and Ben's (huge) size, we tried working in some other fun activities: Sledding, caroling (in which Anna refused to sing...until she was bribed with treats or playing), swimming at the YMCA, game nights (Yay for Ethan's new Cranium game, and of course euchre!), darts with my brothers, date night for Ethan and I. I was hoping to go cross country skiing while we were there, but it just didn't happen. Even though we stayed for a good amount of time, it still just slipped through our fingers. So, I know this has mainly been a picture entry of events, but a big part of the Christmas season is hard to capture in photos: The peace and joy felt when celebrating the Savior's birth. That is what really makes this month so special. I am so grateful to Him for His perfect example that we can try to model our lives after. I love Christmastime when much of the world is focused on Jesus Christ and his birth and life. There is more love in the air, more kindness, more giving. It's awesome!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa Clause Is Coming To Town...

We went to our church Christmas party this past Saturday evening. This was the third time Anna has chatted with Santa this season, lucky girl. It was the first time for Benjamin though. He didn't cry, but he seemed a bit concerned. I could just picture him thinking, "Who the heck is this hairy guy, and why is he holding me?" Anna has her little hand held out because instead of sharing what she wanted for Christmas (she eventually said a doll house), she just wanted Santa to give her the bag of candy already.

My parents came with the kids and I to the party. Ethan stayed home and studied for his last final, which is over now. Yay!!! (Mom and dad were in Ann Arbor for a work conference, and then stayed the weekend with us.) So, from left to right: Grandpa Dewey and Ben-Ben bonding, Grandma Susan and Anna making a craft, and everyone enjoying a tasty dinner...with Anna making a pretty silly face. Fun times!

Doctor or Daddy...

Anna: Daddy, are they going to teach you how to be a doctor today?
Ethan: Well, kind of.
Anna: I don't want you to be a doctor, I just want you to be my daddy.
Ethan: I can be your daddy and be a doctor too.
Anna: No...Actually, I just want you to watch a movie with me.
This is what Ethan is required to wear when he does clinicals on Fridays, but last week was the first time we saw him all decked out because he usually changes at school. So, Anna was a bit curious. Anna and Eth are supposed to look thoughtful and contemplative in these photos. :-) Nice try Anna. I think I clarified this before, but Ethan is in a doctor of physical therapy program, hence the, "Well, kind of." to Anna's question. However, PTs aren't referred to as Dr. ________. I know, it's a rip off. hehe

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

S.K.I.P. To A Great Start...

I mentioned this in my last entry, but wanted to explain it a bit. The S.K.I.P. program is the BEST thing ever!!!!!!!! I seriously can't emphasize enough how much we all LOVE it!! Are you feeling my excitement and sincerity? I heard about it from another mom during story time at our local library. SKIP is a city funded program for any child not yet in school, 0-5 years old. Once you have joined, they mail you a monthly schedule of events and information packet. There are about 2-3 activities a week, and at least one is 'playgroup'. Anna refers to playgroup as her "school" because it meets in a classroom in an early elementary school building. They have sensory stations and crafts set up, and many educational toys. Even with all the different, new toys, Anna plays with the doll house almost the ENTIRE time. It is a rare occurrence for me to get her to do one of the stations, or play with anything else. So, it's an hour long from 10-11am, with two supervising teachers, and they end it with a clean up song, a story, and a song/dance. Short and sweet. And there is a very good turn out every time, so we're meeting lots of new people. Yay!

Benjamin doesn't normally go places in his pajamas (he has standards people :), but this was an evening play group. We hadn't ever attended one of SKIP's evening events, but Ethan was busy studying for finals and I thought it'd be a fun end to an incredibly long day. It was from 6:30 - 7:30 pm, and in case you weren't aware of what great sleepers I have, Ben goes to bed at 7pm - hence the pajamas. He zonked out on the short drive home. I had to include the first picture of him so you could get a good view of Ben-Ben in all of his triple chinned glory. Seriously, we make the chubbiest, squishiest, cheekiest babies ever. I know, I know, we're blessed. :-) And don't worry, we do not take it for granted. We squeeze and smooch them often.

So in addition to the usual playgroups, SKIP plans other fun activities...and all for FREE. (That makes the program even better.) For example: the Tree Farm adventure, detailed in my previous post. Also, about once a month we go to the local gymnastics building. Not surprising, Anna loves it! There was a pumpkin patch trip in October, and tomorrow we're going to the Family Fun Center up in Birch Run. I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds fun. This has just been perfect for us - a few little activities a week to supplement our normal outings: children's museum, library, errands. I just really like having one place we go each day (it makes all the difference to me...especially during the winter months) and this program has really helped. Also, it's a good step for Anna in preparing for some sort of pre-school next year (YIKES...she's just a baby!). Anyway, hooray for fun, educational activities for my sweet little kiddies!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fa la la la la la la la la...

I love the Christmas season!!! Yippee for happiness, joy, peace, family time, yummy sweets, carols, Christmas music, bundling up (it gets really old by mid to late January, but for now, yippee :), the MIRACLE OF OUR SAVIOR'S BIRTH, hot chocolate, the magic of Santa Clause, decorating the house, beautiful ornaments, snuggling with Ethan (since he has so much more free time with the semester winding down THIS WEEK!!!), holiday spice and gingerbread candles, sledding and snow angels, Anna's face glowing with excitement while trying to figure out what it's all about, looking out the window at falling snow from a warm and cozy house (or apartment), and oh, oh, oh the list could go on. I love it.

I took the kids to Windy Hill Tree Farm today as part of the "S.K.I.P. To a Great Start" program. (That's something I'll explain more about soon.) We bundled up in anticipation for a hay ride to see the Christmas tree forest and real, live reindeer. So fun! In the top picture, it looks like Anna is crying, but really, just a snowflake in the eye. She had so much fun. At the barn there was Santa and Frosty the Snowman, hot chocolate and donuts, story time, and many fun things to look at and experience, including a hay-stack maze for the kiddies. When Anna was chatting with Santa, she only told him one thing she wanted for Christmas, even though he tried to pry more out of her. She did, however, inform him that his, "beard was a little bit too scratchy." What a perfect December outing. Sorry you weren't too into it Benjamin, but hey, I kept you warm.

We decorated the apartment on Monday night for family night. It is very festive in here, just perfect. Anna loves playing with all the ornaments we have displayed, and she is so careful with them, it's sweet. I love reading her the story of Christmas. She brings up Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus pretty often. Although, I think that she is having a hard time understanding that the baby Jesus we talk about at Christmas time is the same Jesus we refer to all the time at church, in prayers, and in scripture stories. I'm sure she'll make the connection soon enough...she's a pretty smart cookie.
Well, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad everyone!