Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas!

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is chaotic, crazy and completely wonderful! I have not had a minute of time to devote to the blog so I am trying to get back into it a bit. We had an amazing holiday filled with so much joy and laughter and plenty of tears due to over tiredness that I don't even know where to start. This post is going to be a jumble of some favorite moments, photographs and quotes.

Evan on Christmas morning - his face just glows with the pure joy of the day.

Hailey loving her new Abby Cadabby doll from her cousin Mirabel.

It was such a treat to have my sister and her family here with us for the holidays. Unfortunately due to an inflatable mattress issue, they probably do not feel the same way. (I promise we will buy a new one - please come back!) It was Mirabel's first Christmas and we were able to share it with her. I forgot what it was like to have a little baby in the house - you don't realize how dirty your carpets are until a 10 month old is around to zero in on every piece of lint or every crumb and stick it in her mouth. Hailey loved every minute of having her around. She was obsessed with Mira and wanted to be around her all of the time.

A young boy very excited about his new GIGANTIC Nerf gun. And of course his Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker....

He ran up to his room all on his own and got that hat that he wore in Cinderella last Spring. Trent and I had to fight to hold back our laughter.

A group of cousins in matching jammies. What could be cuter than that?

Remember Gramma's secret project?

How cool are these? The faces are so clear it is almost freaky. Hailey's eyes on the blanket are just unbelievable. We need to figure out a way to hang it somewhere.

I was really excited this Christmas about all the gifts that I made for people. I love being crafty and being able to give something that I actually put time and effort into. Time with little kids is hard to come by so I have to give props to my wonderful husband for putting in a lot of "distraction" time so I had a chance to work on these things.

Mirabel got a blanket that I made for her. She looks like she loves it doesn't she?

My Dad and Sandy and Troy and Joann got name signs with photos I had taken. I tried to personalize them as much as I could. All the letters but the "R's" came from the cabin. On my Dad's most of the letters were from around his property - the "J" and "N" are off two of his boats.

The pillow covers I made for the kids. The dog for Hailey. The cat for Spencer. The dinosaur for Evan. The dog and the cat had a pattern for me to follow. For Evan's I had to make up the pattern. I was very nervous about it but after I had finished, I liked his the best. You can't see very well in this photo, but it has scales all along the top ridge -very cute!

In the background you can see the Rose Petal Cottage that Hailey got from Santa. She also got a little cleaning kit with a broom, duster, fake cleaners etc. All three of them are crazy about the cleaning stuff. On Christmas they were all playing "house" and were "cleaning" everything in it. They were brushing off the outside, the roof - it was so funny. Even after Hailey went down for a nap the boys continued to play. At one point I heard their conversation and Evan was telling Spencer "You can live here with me if you want to, I am not good at making food though." I was totally cracking up!

Evan was full of the funny quotes. He is not one to hide his feelings at all. The night we opened gifts with my Mom, he was already up past his bedtime and exhausted from already having days filled with activity. He opened some dinosaur sheets from Gramma and said in the most whiny, disgusted voice "Why is it always sheets?" Such a lesson for what life throws at you sometimes. He LOVES the sheets now and wants the comforter to match.

It seemed like we were busy everyday with various activities, events and parties. On Christmas Eve morning we were eating breakfast and getting ready to go over to Trent's parents house for our Christmas with them. Spencer looked at me and said "We are going to another party?' When I told him yes he said to me "This is the best year of my life - four parties in a row!"

It is always so hard to see Christmas go. It is such a magical time of year. You spend so much time shopping, planning and looking forward to the big day and then in a matter of hours, it is all over. We took down our tree over the weekend and packed away all the decorations until next year. I hate to see the tree sitting out at the curb waiting to be disposed of - I always have. It just seems like such a awful end for something that brought us such joy. I know it will get shredded up and make the soil richer for other trees to grow, the whole circle of life thing - I get it. I still feel bad though. Maybe I am just projecting my feelings of the holiday being over on to the object of the tree. Maybe I need to get an artificial tree and stop psychoanalyzing myself.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful Christmas and a wonderful break!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

This was my Storypeople quote of the day:

One time on Hollywood Boulevard I saw a young girl with a baby. It was a crisp winter morning & her hair shone dark purple in the sun. She was panhandling outside the Holiday Inn & the door clerk came out & told her to be on her way & I wondered if anyone would recognize the Christ child if they happened to meet. I remember thinking it's not like there are any published pictures & purple seemed like a good color for a Madonna so I gave her a dollar just in case.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens....

I don't know why they play that song at Christmas time. It just reminds me of Julie Andrews singing to the VonTrapp children during a rain storm - it never has brought images of Christmas to mind for me. Anyway... these are a few of my favorite things in our Christmas decorated home.

The advent calendars are a fairly recent tradition for us. I love this magnetic one that Trent bought for me a couple of years ago. The kids take turns getting to open the little door everyday and absolutely love it. We also have the cardboard/candy ones that the boys open each morning. They love those as well - what a treat to get a piece of chocolate in the morning! Last year I could not find the candy calendars anywhere. I finally found one at Pier 1 and paid about seven dollars for it - needless to say, they shared one that year. This year I found them in the candy store in the mall for a couple bucks each. Totally worth every penny!

I love the cross-stitched stockings that Gramma Lyn made for the boys. They are beautiful and such a made from the heart gift. Hopefully Hailey will get hers sometime soon. Hint Hint! These are definitely heirlooms that I hope they will cherish forever.

I love my nativity scenes. OK - I have a lot of them, so there are a lot of pictures following this. I have collected these for about twenty years. My first one was the all wooden one in the middle of the top photo from my Mom when I was still in high school. My sister has given me a bunch of them that she purchased during her worldly travels - many of those are my favorites because they are so unique. The biggest challenge I have (besides where to put them all) is this year Hailey is playing with them NON-STOP! We have "kid friendly" ones that she can play with all she wants, but of course, she hardly touches those.

My Willow Tree nativity from Trent. One of my favorites. You know how I love the Willow Tree!
My Dept. 56 "O Little Town of Bethlehem". I don't think they even make this one anymore. Love it!
A couple more shots of my immense collection! They all make me so happy!

Another favorite thing...our Christmas tree! I love that we get a huge tree every year and I love how much fun we have decorating it. The kids were so great at helping out this year. Spencer is such a big kid now. He took over my lighting assistant duties and helped Trent light the whole thing...when did he get so old? They all loved hanging the ornaments - they were so excited about finding thier own ornaments. Which reminds me of another tradition. Every year we get the kids an ornament that holds some sort of special meaning from the past year. I like to get the Hallmark ornaments because they are dated and they used to put a little memo card in the box to record a Christmas memory. They stopped including those, but I started to make my own. I love those memory cards. If we didn't have those I think we would lose a lot of the "stuff" that made that year special for our kids. How would we know that we bought Evan a cookie jar ornament for his second Christmas because at the time the only words he ever said were "daddy" and "cookie". How would we remember Spencer's third Christmas when he was so fascinated by the lights that we called him "light patrol" because every morning he would walk around the house and point at anything that lit up and shout "more! more!". That the same year he would play with his Little People nativity and ask "Baby Esus...where aaaa oooo". When we take the kids ornaments out of the box, we read the memory and all smile and laugh - the kids can't wait to hear the next one and beg to find one of "theirs" next. I love that we, and they, will always have these memories.

This is the second year that "Springle" has been with us. I can't say that he does wonders in curbing the bad behavior, but I think he helps a little. The best part is how excited the kids get when they get to find him every morning. Even Hailey thinks he is a hoot! They love him so much, he even motivated my non-art-loving son to draw this for no reason one morning...

Now that is love!

The Christmas cards from our family and friends is one of my ultimate favorite things! I am a mail freak to begin with, but at Christmas it is a hundred times worse. I am so excited to get the mail each day and see the pictures and read the annual letters. It is so much fun!
There is so much that I love about this time of year. I could go on and on but for now I will just share a few of my "favorite things"....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Walking with Dinosaurs

Last week we took the boys to Grand Rapids to see the production of "Walking with Dinosaurs". When we first received the email about buying tickets, Trent and I had stalled a bit because it was pretty pricey to go and December is historically an insanely busy month for us - who knew what would be going on that night? Guilt won out because we knew the boys would LOVE it, Evan especially, so we decided to go ahead and purchase tickets.

I am SO glad that we did! The show was AWESOME! The boys thought it was the best "play" they had ever seen (that is saying a lot, because their Dad puts on some pretty great ones! Ha!). On Friday Evan asked if we could go back to the dinosaur thing again that night. He would watch it over and over again if given the chance. It was a great night!

The boys before the show with their souvenir.
Spencer thinking he hears a dinosaur. He needs to check it out!

Evan was mesmerized by the whole thing. He covered his ears when the T-rex roared and didn't like to watch the fights. He loves all dinosaurs and doesn't like to see any get hurt.

Two Torosaureses fighting to be the head of the pack. I put a little arrow where the narrator is standing. You cannot believe how big these dinosaurs are!

The brachiosaurus adult and child. Once again the arrow points to the minuscule man.

Torosaurus, Ankylosaurus and Mama T-rex. The guy is next to the rock in the right hand corner.

Mama T-rex looking right at us. The baby is in the background. The baby T-rex was Evan's favorite. All of the dinosaurs were unbelievably realistic.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stage five clinger

Dear Sweetzers,

You are now 23 months - your days as a one year old are numbered. You are knocking on the door of the terrible two's. I am hoping that the saying for you will be "terrible 20+months..." and the two's will turn into "terrific two's"! These last few months have been difficult with you. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. People who told me that girls are so much easier to raise than boys must never have met you. You are your own little person. In the long run I think that will turn into a positive but for right now it runs me ragged.

You are into everything! Everyday you tear apart the craft cupboard and leave various objects strewn all over the house. You like to empty your dresser drawers and throw your clothes over the railing to watch them fall. If I give you a bowl of anything: dry cheerios, goldfish crackers, pretzels - in seconds you have "Hansel and Greteled" them all over the place.

You are very into climbing and jumping. You will get onto the kitchen chairs and maneuver your way onto the table. You have figured out how to climb out of your highchair and onto the counter. The other day I left the room for literally five seconds and came back to you sitting on the counter top holding the knife I was using to cut up your lunch in your hands! You jump on the couch, the chairs, our bed, your crib - EVERYWHERE! Not timid jumps either. Full out jumping for joy and falling down to heaps of laughter. I don't know how to stop you and I fear it is only a matter of time before you get injured somehow.

You seem to have split personality sometimes since you will go from overwhelming clingy to fiercely independent - or maybe that is just the nature of being almost two. More often you lean toward the clingy though - that is how you got your "stage five clinger" nickname. It is not uncommon for me to be cooking dinner while you are literally hanging on my pant legs. For some reason, that time of day tends to be your worst. Spencer claims it is because you are hungry, but I don't buy it because I will give you food and you will just throw it violently to the floor and continue to whine and cling. I just keep thinking that this too will pass and someday I will look back and long for the "cling- on" days. Yeah, right!

You are now a full fledged book worm. You will listen for as long as we want to read. One of your favorites is "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed". You love to wave your finger in the air along with the doctor and tell the little monkeys to stop jumping. Then you laugh your little head off. You are starting to speak a lot more. You love to "talk" on the phone though your conversations usually consist of "Hi" followed by a couple of "yes's" and then a lot of your own gobbledy-gook which is probably extremely profound - but we can't decipher it enough to know what you are trying to expound upon. One of my favorite things that you say is "Oh" - you say it in response to many things. It makes you sound so grown up. For example: I will tell you to go put something away because we don't need to use it yet and you will look at me and say "Oh" and run off and put it away. It is just so matter-of-fact. I know I am goofy, but it cracks me up every time.

You get so excited about things these days. You love baths. When I tell you that it is time to get out you will scrunch your face up in a little pout and look at me and say "NO!". You love Daddy. When you hear the door opening when he is coming home from work you scream "DaDa!" and go running to him with a hug and kiss. You are in awe of all the Christmas decor that we have and every time you see something lit up you proclaim it "pretty"! You love to wrestle around with your big brothers. You love to be included in everything they do and you think you can do everything that they can do. If I ask "Who wants to help me set the table?" or any other chore you will answer along with the boys with a "Meeeee". You love anything that has to do with Dora and Elmo. Of course, every muppet you see is "Memo" and even Diego is "Doaa" to you. You are starting to play with your baby dolls a lot more and your favorite is your big baby doll that we named Mirabel, since she looks kind of like your little cousin. Oh, yeah - you LOVE Mirabel. Everytime you see a picture of her you get excited and say her name "Mirabaaaa". I can't wait to see how you react to the real life Mirabel in a few weeks.

You are always on the move and curious about everything. I can't even photograph you anymore - you just won't sit still! These pictures are not the greatest, but they are so you right now -our little Hurricane Hailey.
I know there is so much more that I wanted to say, but it will have to wait for another day. This time of year is so full - so much activity, fun and stressful and my head is just swimming in it all right now. I have been trying to find time to write this for weeks now (it started with your 22-month birthday) so I just need to get it posted. I am so looking forward to these next few weeks to see how you experience all the wonder of Christmas. You are at the perfect age where you find so much joy in everything and we will find our joy through you!
Love, Mommy

Thursday, December 4, 2008

O Christmas Tree

The day after Thanksgiving we went to pick out our Christmas tree. It was really cold and the kids were not loving being outside at the tree farm - especially Evan and Hailey. Spence seemed to have some sort of ulterior motive because he was sticking out the cold pretty well. He was resigned to the fact that he was Dad's helper.

I think maybe they thought the swords would help in the tree felling? Spence looks pretty intense about the whole thing. Evan just looks cold and annoyed.

While the tree was being drilled and bound, Spence came running back to the car with a huge smile on his face and his hands filled with lollipop sticks. Apparently, this is what he was waiting for. He remembered them from last year - he was the only one that remembered. They all looked so cute smooshed up in the backseat eating their lollys.

I laughed out loud when Spencer said, "Mom, I am in sucking heaven right now!"

Hailey got more on her coat than in her mouth I think!

All the cold and stickiness was worth it when my sweet little babies all worked together to decorate our beautiful Christmas tree!

For some reason, I just love this picture. I know it is totally grainy and the lighting is not great. I have been using a lot less flash lately. I am just not liking the artificial look that it gives the pictures. The only drawback is that in a house with no natural light, you lose a lot of the quality. There is another Olympus class coming up later this month, I think I will go ask them some questions and get some ideas for Santa Claus!