Merry and bright!

Our wonderful Christmas was spread out over three weeks, first with my husband's family, then with just our little family the following week, and finally with my side of the family Christmas week itself. In between, we decorated sugar cookies, counted down to Advent, played with the Little People nativity set, and went on Christmas outings including a parade, train, and rides, spending lots of quality time with family members. Afterward there was more fun with a mini-vacation my mom traditionally and kindly hosts for the 10 of us; this year it was in the beautiful coastal city of Victoria where we visited museums and castles, swam and shopped and laughed together, and ate lots of delicious food.

This year, the delight was even richer than previous years with Jack being old enough to greater understand visiting family, sharing and giving, and the nativity story—and get extremely excited about the presents under various family trees. The fact that he opened Christmas presents over a period of time was perfect; he had time to play with each and truly enjoy them. The thrill on his little face as he ripped open paper and discovered new toys is already a treasured memory. Another precious memory is helping Jack pick and package gifts for a boy his age who has fewer resources than our family. After we arranged the items in the box, he walked around our home selecting various toys "for Daniel" (although I had to explain we were limited in what we could send). And thereafter, he frequently says during prayer time, "Pray for Daniel." I'm so honored that I can be Jack's mom and help instill kindness, giving, love, and other important lessons (which I pray are life-long) in his little heart.

Like in 2008, Christmas was also extra-special because of the incredible joy of our new little one on the way. Being pregnant at this time of the year makes me feel a little closer to the biblical account of Jesus' birth, as I imagine Mary being visited by the angel who announced the Messiah's conception; her growing belly; the dusty, rough ride to Bethlehem; the agony of labor; and the fresh cries of a tiny boy.

Here's hoping you enjoyed a joy-filled Christmas—and have a rich and full 2012!


Jack's new book

I just got a new story book,
And a new shirt for a brand-new look.
Why? Because I'm happy to say
My little sibling is on the way!

All three of us are looking forward to welcoming a precious little one next June (although Jack tends to think the baby is in his tummy from time to time). We are beyond thankful to God for this tiny, beautiful miracle; we couldn't feel more blessed! It's been a bit of a journey to get to this point (in which I've learned more about God's incredible timing and about the essential virtue of patience) and that makes us all the more grateful, with more of a sense of amazement and a perhaps even a deeper joy.

Last week, we saw our little guy or gal (the extreme fuzzy version) on ultrasound and heard his or her wonderfully rhythmic heartbeat for the first time. What a phenomenal God we have to create the wonder of new life!

Now begins the guessing game...boy or girl? My husband thinks girl. I have no clue. We shall see!


Really? Two years?

Has it really been that long? It seems Jack has been in our hearts and lives forever.

Family photos just before Jack's second birthday were certainly, um, interesting. Lots of running around, pulling on the backdrop fabric, running behind the backdrop, and generally very little sitting still and actually smiling. It was just not the best day on earth for obedience. The photographer was sweet and patient and bribed him with cookies. So we have various photos in which he is obviously chewing, but at least he looked at the camera from time to time.

The company likes to print extras and try to convince you to buy them (which we never do) when you go pick up your order. It says something that the photographer said, "Oh, you can have just have these." Yikes.

Anyway, we are happy with them because we have something by which to remember our 2-year-old family of three (authentically, for sure) forever. And what fun would life be without a rambunctious little boy?


Caution: Fun Zone!

Jack loves trucks (and cars). He races big ones around the house at high speed and plays for a long time with little ones, driving them over tabletops and furniture and Mommy and Daddy and himself. He calls each a "ruck." So this year his party was all about trucks and other construction vehicles—and dirt, of course.

We had various snacks, including Muddy Buddies (not shown), served with a toy shovel. Yum! I had never made them before, but I may make them again :-). The tablecloth was the "road" (thanks to a creative mom  for this and other party inspiration). And I was excited to find truck balloons at the dollar store. 

It was a super fun party to plan. (I have to admit that I adore planning parties. It's just got a whole lot more fun since I've had a little guy. My husband teases that I start planning one party before the current one is even over. He's exaggerating—but just a bit.) While I love to spend plenty of time collecting ideas online and finding thematic products to make the party extra splendid, I still have a ton to do the week before the actual party. Ha! (I'll probably never quite kick my super-ingrained procrastination habits.)

Of course, a party's not a party without people to join in and celebrate, and we're really grateful for everyone who made it fun.

Some of the loads of fun we had:

Eating dirt (crushed Oreos, pudding, cake, gummy worms) cake!

We had games, a craft, a pinata and trucks for play.  A wonderful friend let us borrow her stoplight for extra fun.

We decorated with caution tape and "road signs" (and balloons and streamers of course). (I found some signs at Mardel and printed some off that I found online or adapted.) All of the kids got a construction hat and a party horn.
Favor bagsI love having fun with candy molds; these ones were dump trucks. And candy rocks, as it turns out, are delish!

Now, off to third birthday party planning! Just kidding (sort of). I do already have a possible theme in mind...


Life's a changin'

In the last several weeks, we've experienced two major changes in our little family. First, our baby boy became officially not a baby any more (sniff, sniff). He turned the big 2!

It's been great fun to see him develop physically, mentally and emotionally of late. He has learned how to save "Love you," and loves to give hugs and kisses. He'll come running at me and my husband full-speed, saying "[h]ug! [h]ug!" He's got his foibles for sure, but he's a sweet little boy. He says "Thank you" most of the time when he's given something, and he says "Hi" and offers a big grin to nearly anyone—especially to characters who look like they might be criminals in their free time. His vocabulary seems to expand daily; it's always fun to hear him say a new word he picked up on his own.

Celebrating with dirt cake. Shortly thereafter, he attempted to eat the candle.
That is, he took a huge bite of it before I had him spit it out.

Second, we moved. It was just a few blocks away, in the same town, but it was quite the experience! It was the first time we had moved as a family (when we married, I simply moved into my husband's home), and so we had plenty of stuff to sort through and toss. We ended up taking a very long time to move everything since we were under no pressure, and that made for some extra stress. But all in all, we're fairly settled now (except for a few last pesky boxes). And we are enjoying the perks of our new home.

The move came with a move to Jack's big-boy bed. He loved it—and we loved that he loved it.  Next up, potty training...

 Moving time! I told him we were moving his toys so he picked these up and headed out the door.

We are keeping busy celebrating others' life changes, too—graduations, a good friend's wedding, baby showers, birthdays. It's that season of the year when I'm reminded to be so thankful that life's a grand adventure!


The year of 2

It may be two whole months into 2011, but here I am (umm, better late than never?). I haven't posted in a while for no particular reason—just life in general gets busy and blogging hits the very bottom rung of the priority ladder.

This year, Jack will turn 2. Wow. It really seems like yesterday that I was pregnant and imagining what his tiny self would look like. Now, I'm happy to say that he has my husband's good looks and is giggling his way through life (even when he's sick, and this winter has been rough on him). He's learning more and more words every day.

Being 2 means making the leap from the church nursery to Sunday school. Also crazy. We were pretty concerned about this because 1) he doesn't talk in sentences yet, and 2) he liked to eat crayons. But recently he learned the word Bible and discovered coloring is in fact more fun than biting the tops off of crayons. So I feel a bit better about that one. Now to complete potty training (in which we are making slooooow progress).

The sweetest part of this 20-something-month-old stage for me is the new ability to express love. He knows the sign for love, says "hug" when he reaches for one, gives his daddy and me kisses, and has recently started loving his stuffed animals—saying "Night, night" and covering them with a blanket, hugging and kissing them, and handing them to me for more hugs and kisses. Adorable.

I recently pulled back significantly on the (already small) amount of work I do from home (thanks to my hard-working, wonderful husband), so that has given me even more time to spend with him and watch him explore his world.

Did I mention I love being his mom?
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