"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

'52' - Week '52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Jaden: We took advantage of some nicer weather earlier this week to get outside and get some much-needed fresh air. It's been months since he was able to practice his shot, but with Saturday morning basketball starting in January, he wanted to tune up a bit.

Brandon: My little buddy has loved our long break at home together. I'm happy to say that he still just loves being with his mommy and is happiest when we're in our own home. He's a home-body much like me. Happy to leave our nest for fun, but always more than ready to come home. As I type, he's sitting next to me playing on his ipad, the sun not quite yet risen in the sky, the rest of the house still sleeping. We had a conversation about what the New Year's holiday means and then he laid his head on my chest and sighed with content.

**This wraps up a year of weekly portraits of my boys. I can't believe I made it the entire year without missing a week. I love being able to look back through this series and see their faces grow ever so slightly from the beginning of the year to the end, reading about their weekly stories and seeing their personalities shine through in my writings of them. Looking forward to more of the same in 2015. Happy New Year!!**

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas, 2014

As far as Christmases can go, ours was pretty low key this year. Having already celebrated with some of our family weeks ago and Christmas with Cody's side not until New Year's Eve this year, the day of was pretty easy and not so much hustle and bustle. I didn't even take that many pictures. We stayed in our pajamas most of the day on Christmas Eve, playing games and making a birthday cake for Jesus, as is tradition. We attended our always favorite candlelight service Christmas Eve night, had our parents over for Pizza after church, spent Christmas morning in our own living room, Christmas afternoon with my mom and dad and Christmas night back at home with Cody's parents, some appetizers and a pork loin in the oven.

And now a few days later I can actually say that all the toys are put together and have found a home. And instead of awaiting Santa's arrival, now we're just anxiously awaiting the arrival of the garbage truck for its weekly pickup. Our garbage is just slightly overflowing!

A few pictures of Christmas Eve day in our PJ's. A few early presents opened from out of town relatives, Christmas pancakes in the morning and a frosted birthday cake for our Savior.

But my favorite part of our Christmas had to be Christmas Eve night. For the first time in his young four years, Brandon sat through the entire candlelight service, only getting quietly impatient towards the end when he was just so ready to light those candles. He loved the little intro video with the super heroes depicting the birth of Jesus, held tightly to his unlit candle during the whole service and looked absolutely adorable when that candle was lit, the glow warming up his face and his eyes twinkling like magic through the singing of Silent Night. Jaden sat perfectly still through the whole hour, and I felt so cozy and warm sitting amongst our family in our church home as Pastor Dave reminded us that because of Jesus, we can choose joy. No matter what our circumstances, we can always choose joy because He has chosen us.

After church, our parents joined us at our house for pizza, a slice of birthday cake and a watching of the Polar Express, which just happens to be the absolute perfect Christmas Eve movie, if you ask me. And the entire time, my dad was tracking Santa's whereabouts on his phone, the excitement building. Christmas with kids has to be the coolest thing ever.

And the closer Santa got, the more anxious Brandon got. As soon as everyone had gone home for the night, he was adamant that we get to bed right away. He was so fearful of Santa passing over our house while seeing us awake through the windows, and he has never raced through his bedtime routine faster. Cody and I kept exchanging glances and smiles with one another... so happy to be living those moments as they were.

But we couldn't go to bed without our reading of the Night Before Christmas, the same book we've read every Christmas Eve night since Brandon's first Christmas.

We tucked the boys in tight before realizing that we had forgotten to put out Santa's cookies and milk! Brandon had everyone so anxious to get to bed that we completely missed a very important step. :) I walked back into their bedroom and asked them if they wanted to get back out of bed and help put the cookies and cake on Santa's plate, to which Brandon responded, "No! You do it!"... and pulled the covers back tight over his head. ;)

The boys woke up Christmas morning and tore into everything within about 20 minutes. They were thrilled to see that Santa had left them a hand-written note, and loved his personalized Santa wrapping paper straight from the North Pole. ;) And though the rest of the ground outside was dry and brown, there was a hint of snow and frost left on our deck, courtesy of Santa's sleigh and reindeer, and I think just a little bit of magic. I think that was Brandon's favorite part.
Jaden loved the Ninja Turtle game portal Santa brought and Brandon was super excited to see that his request on Santa's lap of a race car track was fulfilled. Other favorites included a football helmet, a Ninja Turtle house, NFL board game, Ninja Turtle laser ball game, the brand new Ninja Turtle movie and lots and lots of Lego's, just to name a few things.
More pictures of Christmas... with another fun one still ahead this week.

Of course we couldn't leave Dasher out on his first Christmas either... he got a nice set of candy cane bones from our house. ;)

We're completely soaking up break again this week with slow and lazy days and a few fun outings planned before we head into 2014. Lot's going on around here...

Wishing you all a strong finish to 2014 and a very blessed start to the New Year.
The picture from our 2014 Christmas card fits perfectly in our 2014 ornament. The years go by so quick, and I love the sentiment in each ornament on the tree...

Friday, December 26, 2014

'52' - Week 51

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Jaden: He received this Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet for Christmas and spent the rest of the day either wearing it on his head or carrying it around with him. Santa was good to him, and I'm not sure how we're supposed to come up with even more gifts for his January birthday!

Brandon: As excited as he was for all of his gifts, this turtle mask might have been the immediate favorite. Christmas Eve with him was so special. When you dream of being a parent and envision what Christmas Eve will be like with little ones, it was exactly as I had dreamed it would be. Magical.

Monday, December 22, 2014

t'was the weekend before christmas...

We're getting pretty excited around here. I am now off work for the next two weeks, the boys just have one more day of school, and I just picked up a couple of last minute gifts to wrap and place under the tree. There's big things heading our way, as we look forward to that special candlelight service, a couple of Christmas gatherings and a special 2015 looming. I took some time this morning to look back at pictures of our past year, and I almost got a little choked up. So many special moments captured. And just like that, we're about to turn the page again. In the mean time, these boys of mine just keep growing...

We had a good weekend. Cody and I spent a day and night in Des Moines, shopping at Trader Joe's for some special and unique goodies, stopping for a late afternoon lunch and watching our Panthers beat the Hawks in person. The boys got to have a sleepover with Papa Tim and Nana Deanne, and we spent all day Sunday baking cookies and readying ourselves for the big week ahead. I got plenty of use out of my new Keurig machine as I brewed cups of hot cocoa, cappuccino and cider, and I took some time to practice with my new camera tripod.

And it all started Friday night with our annual Christmas lights drive. I look forward to this every December and always save it for that final weekend before Christmas. And this year? We took it up a notch. We made a little game out of it, as I found this really cool printable scavenger hunt from Pinterest.

We piled in the car, reviewed our list, and turned up the Christmas music. The boys and even Cody got really into checking off as many things on this list as we could, and I'm happy to say that we only failed at finding two items... a Disney character and a decorated mailbox. I had hopes to find maybe half of these things, but we hit the jackpot near my old neighborhood. Within two blocks we were able to check off most of the items, including the Christmas music played outdoors. If you still haven't done your lights drive, check out Lilac Ln. off of Rownd St. The kids even got out of the car and explored the yards a little bit. These pictures don't do it all justice. I can't imagine where these people store all of this stuff!

After driving around for over an hour, we met my parents at Village Inn for dessert. We did this after attending the Festival of Trees over Thanksgiving weekend, and it's becoming a favorite way to wind down these special nights. The boys always order ice cream sundaes, Cody always chooses a banana crème pie and I love a simple slice of cheesecake.

Tuckered... :)

We also let the boys open a couple of gifts early this weekend from Aunt Sally and Uncle Bob in Florida. They are always gifted with so much, and it's nice to have a few items to open early so we can spread it out a little bit. They loved their new sets of binoculars... perfect for our many nature walks in the summer and football games in the Dome in the Fall... just like Papa and Daddy use in the press box!

And I caved in and once again made sugar cookies. We always leave a piece of Jesus' birthday cake for Santa to eat, but Brandon really wanted to be sure he had some cookies from us, too. I tried out a new sugar cookie recipe from Pinterest... one that said the cookies would actually remain in their perfect shape through baking... and it didn't fail me!

Merry week of Christmas, everyone! Just three more sleeps...