Friday, December 31, 2010

My Big, Fat Christmas Post . . .

For all our family and close friends we were not able to spend the holiday with, here is a very detailed blog of our Christmas festivities. With all the pictures I'm including, you will probably feel like you were right there with us. :) Enjoy!

Christmas Day - Morning

So, I'm starting with Christmas Day, and working back. We had a nice, quiet Christmas morning at my parent's house. My mom and dad weren't feeling too well, so it stayed very low key. Love this picture of the kids excitement on Christmas morning while looking through their stockings. Just as it should be.

The kids received so many thoughtful gifts, and were just so excited, even for the littlest gifts. Ethan and I exchanged gifts too, and we always look forward to surprising each other. Even this year, we had a $20 budget (that we both went just a bit over), but I was still SO excited for Ethan to open his presents, and also to see what he picked out for me. So fun. Loved a ring Eth picked out, and a few classic books to add to our home library, among other things. I got Ethan a book by one of his favorite comedic writers, and a really fun game (travel version) called "Would You Rather," among other things.

Anna was super excited to see that Santa brought her a Unicorn Pillow Pet. How did he know?! She has wanted one for so long, and it was one of the few things she asked Santa for that was actually within our budget. Benjamin was probably most excited for this plastic ice cream cone he got in his stocking. Ben-Ben is really in to pretend food...and real food. This was from the dollar section at Target...isn't that how it always is? A cheap, little stocking stuffer turns into the favorite gift. The kidlets also got some great books, a new Wii game, classic Melissa & Doug toys, movies, clothes, games, fun stocking stuffers, puzzles, pop up tent, etc. Thank you to all for the sweet gifts! Wow, what lucky kids, and what perfect timing. They have been able to keep themselves occupied while Daddy and Momma have focused on a new baby.

Christmas Day - Afternoon

In the afternoon on Christmas day, we went over to Chuck and Melissa's. Caleb had just come home from the hospital that morning (see previous post), and we were a little nervous to take him out. But, it was Christmas Day. Ethan and I decided to bring Caleb with us (as opposed to one of us staying home with him), but that just he and I would hold him. We are being so careful about germs, and sickness, and not passing the baby around. So, baby Caleb just hung out sleeping on mommy's lap for most of the afternoon. Perfect.

Love all these pictures of fun and family at GraMelissa and Grampa Chuck's house. It was a festive afternoon - yummy snacks, more presents, cousins playing, and silliness.

Love these two pictures of my three, sweet babies. Love the matching Christmas jammies Melissa got for everyone. So adorable!

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve at the Rayhorn's working on this year's puzzle, visiting, kids playing, snacking, and changing into our Christmas jammies. Very relaxed, very fun. My sister Beth and her family have made it a tradition to stop by Chuck and Melissa's on Christmas Eve too. The more the merrier! (Stuart and Beth have been close family friends of Ethan's parents for a long, long time...they're like family, and not just because they're related to me. :)

When we came back to my parent's house to put the kids to bed, we decided to have a little spiritual devotional to again focus on the true purpose of the holiday. We read the Christmas story, and then turned off all the lights (except the tree) and sang some Christmas songs. Beautiful! Then, we tucked the kiddies in to bed, and got to work.

We went over to the NICU to spend some time with Caleb J. on Christmas Eve. Love the picture of him sleeping in his stocking. Caleb also got a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Klaus earlier in the evening. We knew he would be coming home the next day, so it was crazy to think this was the last time we would be visiting him at the hospital. It was a long journey! Ethan and I got home around 10pm and started wrapping presents. With my mom's help, we were all set up by 11:30pm, and I was just so excited for the kids to wake up on Christmas morning. Love the shot of Anna, Benjamin, and Caleb's stocking. My little family is complete.
Christmas Eve Eve.

Anna was super excited to come with me to a little get together at my friend's house. She felt so grown up, being one of the girls. She wanted all of us try on one of Amy's vintage hats and then take pictures of all of us. It was so fun catching up with all of you, including those not pictured! :)

We had my families Christmas get together on Christmas Eve Eve. It was fun seeing everyone, exchanging presents, eating deliciousness, and seeing the cousins play together. What a fun few days! It was so great spending time with family, having Caleb come home from the hospital, seeing the magic of the holiday in my children's eyes, having relaxing time with Ethan, and enjoying the spirit felt while celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and will have a fantastic new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home At Last . . .

Our first family picture. Anna and Benjamin meeting Caleb for the first time, through the NICU window, as we were waiting for him to get all ready to come home with us!

As previously mentioned, we were supposed to bring little Caleb home on Wednesday the 22nd. It didn't end up happening because of one last thing they wanted to do and evaluate. A little disappointing, but we were used to things not always going as planned at the NICU. Instead, baby Caleb was ready to come home Christmas morning. It was the best Christmas present ever! We opened presents with Anna and Benjamin around 8am. Then, at 9am-ish a NICU nurse called to say the Doctor had seen Caleb, and he was ready to come home and spend Christmas with his family. It ended up taking about an hour and a half to do all the paper work, wait for a perscription to come from the pharmacy, and get some last minute instructions from the Doctor. But, we were all there (in our Christmas jammies) so very excited to bring Caleb home with us. This was also the first time Anna and Benjamin were able to meet their little brother, yay!

It worked out nicely that Anna and Benjamin had new, fun Christmas goodies to play with while Ethan and I settled in the baby (see third picture above). Can you believe that Caleb had four BIG bags of items and belongings from his stay in the NICU. Crazy! We got him all unpacked, and snuggled him for awhile...minus any cords or monitors!!! Then, we layed him in his bumble bee bassinet, so he could get used to his new bed. Caleb was a little sad about that, so we snuggled him some more.

Then, we changed Caleb into his matching Christmas jammies, and got ready to head over to Chuck and Melissa's for Christmas festivities that afternoon. We are being very careful about exposure to germs and big groups of people, doctor's orders. For example, at the Rayhorn's only Ethan and I held him so as not to do the "pass the baby" thing that is so typical in big groups of family with a new little baby to hold. It's a little scary having a high risk baby, but we are all adjusting well to having little Caleb home, and it was so exciting that he was able to be home for Christmas. He is such a sweet baby, I just love him! I'll write more later about our other Christmas festivities, and about life with Caleb J. Hope you all had a very joyous Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time. . .

Well, in case you hadn't noticed, I have been doing quite the lengthy blog updates lately. A lot has been happening in our little family, especially with our newest addition. I am really going to try to keep this entry relatively short (not likely :)...but with lots o' pictures. First a Caleb update: he is doing very, very well! He is finally off his nasal cannula, and has been for a few days now, which means no more oxygen assistance. He will be all set to come home most likely on Wednesday. Wahoo!!! The closer it gets and the more real it gets, the more my emotions are starting to run high. It's been such a waiting game with him, but the time is finally near. I'm so excited, and so scared at the same time. We can't wait for Caleb to meet the rest of his family, especially Anna and Benjamin, and have him home with us, but we're very nervous about protecting him from all the germs and sickness that is so typical during this season. Oh my goodness!

The first picture shows Benjamin, all smiles that he got to have alone time with mommy and daddy. We just ran some errands, but tried to make it fun and special for him. And the second picture shows Anna's reindeer antlers, being silly while we decorated our gingerbread house.

Having a baby in the NICU, we have been trying to keep things especially simple this holiday season. One way to do this was to get the gingerbread house kit, instead of making it all ourselves. :) It was surprisingly tasty, and the kids had so much fun. Benjamin kept saying, "This is going to be so fun!" the whole time we were working on the house. We ate it for a bed time snack that same night (but not all of it). Ooops! So unhealthy, and Anna was sure to let us know she ate her fair share. hehe.

We went to our ward Christmas party on Saturday, and the kids thought it was just a little bit fun. Benjamin was just positive it would be like the Halloween party, and was a little disappointed there was no trick-or-treating. Anna was disappointed there weren't any games. However, they both had fun participating in the primary presentation of the Nativity. Anna took it very seriously, and was just the sweetest little Angel. She sang out beautifully, and kept "prayer hands" the whole time. At first, we told Benjamin he was too little (because he's still in nursery...not primary age yet). But then, one of the teachers gave Ben-Ben a costume and asked if he wanted to sing with them too. He was sooooo happy! After his costume was on, he ran up to Anna and loudly and excitedly said, "Do you see me, Anna? I'm not too little, I'm big too! I'm a shepherd." Ben knelt with the kids for most of the program and tried to figure out what it was all about, but then slowly crawled away toward the ending, before coming back for the last song. He added a little spunk and adorableness. Speaking of adorableness, Anna and Ben's cousins, Austyn and Hudson, played the part of Joseph and Baby Jesus. (See middle picture above.) So precious! When Andrew told Anna that Hudson was going to be Jesus for the program, Anna thought he was joking and asked him, "Oh, is he going to wear a beard and mustache?" Um, not the "grown-up Jesus," Anna. hehe.

Love this picture of Anna pretending to be shy with Santa. I know she was pretending because she hopped right up on his lap and said hello, and one second after this she was enthusiastically asking Santa for a real puppy for Christmas. And, no, she's not getting one. We told her that Santa and parents are close, and have to agree on presents. We've also told her over and over, that we can talk about getting a puppy when Caleb is five.

Benjamin wouldn't sit on Santa's lap, but wanted to stand close to him the whole time he was there. He of course got close enough to accept the treat bag Santa was handing out. The pictures show Ben-Ben bringing a toy to Santa, Ethan trying to encourage cousin Rorie to see Santa, and Anna asking for a puppy. Sweet.

All dressed up for the Sunday before Christmas. These outfits were sent to the kids from Ethan's Grandma, or Granny to the kiddies. Anna loved the sparkly factor of the dress AND the shoes, and I think she just looks beautiful in cream. Ben-Ben loved that he was wearing a tie, and looked especially "fancy" too. Thanks, Lee! The primary kids sang at church, and Anna sung out beautifully. She holds the notes at the end of phrases and has a bit of vibrato to her voice. Anna again received so many compliments about her lovely voice, especially for a five year old girl. Ah, so sweet for a mommy to overhear. I sang in a group of eight, two on each part, and we heard that it sounded good. It was a challenging song, but we had a talented group (including my brother, Andrew, and bro-in-law, Stuart), and I loved participating. I was reminded how much I miss singing in choirs and singing in general.

Winter activities aren't complete without some SLEDDING!!! We've had so much snow lately, we of course had to go sledding. Let me just say, it was freezing! And I don't get cold too easily. Yes that is me sitting in the car (with no make-up on :) after I just couldn't take the stinging wind anymore. Meghan and Rorie came too, and poor Rorie was just freezing and miserable the whole time. At least she had a few fun trips down the hill before she just couldn't take it anymore. Anna, and surprisingly Ben-Ben too, had so much fun and we had to make them leave after we'd been out for over an hour. The rest of the evening they just wanted to snuggle together on the couch, how sweet! You can see their pink, chapped faces in the last picture. We'll have to go again when it's not so windy...and above 20 degrees!
Well, that's all the Christmas fun I have time to journal about now. Hopefully I'll be able to do a post in a few days to journal about Caleb's HOMECOMING!!!