December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

It took me a while, but I finally got all the pictures from Christmas uploaded to the blog (I accidentally put them on different computers, making that task a lot more difficult than it should have been), pared them down to fewer than my 30 favorites, and finished this post...and backdated it so that it forever appears in the right year :)
Isn't it always the way that our children, in their innocence and honesty, teach us? I made sure that the first book we opened was one that talked about why we give, receive, open presents on Christmas. I talked to them about how each gift is meant to remind us of the greatest gift - Jesus. They are big into birthday parties right now, and so they turned to me and asked, "But if it is Jesus' birthday, what will we give him?" Hmmm...good question. I asked them for their ideas (they thought a book would be best), suggested it was something to think about, and put them to bed (secretly hoping they would forget...because I was convicted...and I didn't want to be). They didn't forget, and between that being a popular topic of conversation in the next few days, and this article, I was pushed over the edge of conviction. We needed to give Jesus something for His birthday. The twins and I decided that showing Jesus' love would be the best gift. I asked them what they wanted to do to show Jesus' love for Christmas and Ryan responded, "Paint cards for the Grandpas and Grandmas." We take them to the Assisted Living where our church does quarterly services. We had just been there, and the kids really liked the idea of a bunch of Grandparents to love on them :) So they painted cards. Lots. And then I sent them to the nursing home (I was a wee bit selfish and sent them to the one in MA where I used to work). In the cards was this picture:
I wish I could show my favorite out-takes from the photo shoot...but there were too many :) I'm so thankful my children were thoughtful enough to want to give to others. Lucas and I will do a better job for future years of thinking of ways to give to Jesus for His birthday!
I love Christmas Eve. I'm still working on our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We've tried a few things each year, but I want something that we have every year that my children always connect with Christmas Eve. This year we did White Chili. It was easy (throw everything into the crock pot - totally what I'm looking for since we generally have a lot going on that day), but I'm not sure it's the meal I want. Suggestions would be appreciated...

Then off to our Christmas Eve service at church. It is one of my favorite services - the music, the message, the candle-lighting at the end. This was the first year I was able to be in the entire service because the kids were SO good (a few notes I want to remember: them crunching on the candy canes they got during the children's message. They didn't know to LICK them. Allie singing, and when I told her she needed to stop and be quiet she responded, "But Allie LOVES to sing!" Ryan lying on his stomach, below the pews, coloring. Allie almost falling asleep half in the aisle.). Another favorite thing, the last few years both of our families (or the majority of both) have been there! This year, my SIL's parents also came! So fun.

After, everyone came back to our house for the cousins to open presents.
See all the different family members there? Best part of Christmas.
Allie feeding H some of the (fake) grapes we gave them.
Allie & Ry-guy playing with the toys they gave their cousins.
D checking to see if there is anything she missed!
Nana & Poppy with ALMOST all of the grandchildren
note: this isn't the best of the pictures, but I really love what Allie is doing in this one, so it might be my favorite :)
Afterwards, my parents, my brother, Lucas and I got everything ready. Presents wrapped, food started, It's A Wonderful Life watched (as you can see in the picture).
Before church, the twins opened their stockings. They are young enough that unwrapping takes for-ev-er, so I didn't want to even try to unwrap everything AND get to church on time! It worked out because they weren't even interested in opening presents. They thought they were all for Baby Jesus! The only stockings thing got funny at church though. Lucas asked all of the kids to bring their favorite present for the children's message. My children showed up with magnets and toothpaste...granted they really LOVE brushing their teeth, so it was a legitimate favorite. But everyone definitely laughed when Allie held proudly lifted up the tube and yelled, "Toothpaste!"

After church we ate. Then the kids napped. Then they had snack. Then we opened presents (it was almost 4 before we really got started. I think my kids might be the only ones in the world who said, "After I finish my snack." in response to, "Are you ready to open presents?" Once they got started, they were so excited though!
From Nana & Poppy - a really cool table. I'm so excited!
Among their favorite gifts: backpacks from Nana & Poppy, a playhouse they can color from us, and guitars from Papa & Gigi. My favorite quote from Ry-guy: "A guitar! I wanted one all my life!"
Jamming with Daddy & Uncle Matt.
Today the Christmas decorations have started to come down. Another Christmas is officially over. Allie keeps saying things like, "Not THAT Christmas tree! It's my favorite decoration in the whole world!" It makes me sad that it is making them sad. BUT, now it is a new year and there are plenty of adventures waiting for us!

Top 10 of 2011

For the 3rd year in a row, one of our favorite annual traditions is our Top 10 blogs of the past year. It combines my love of reminiscing with Lucas' love of Top 10 lists :) 2011 did not fail to disappoint with plenty of Top 10 options...and so, as is our annual tradition, we will actually showcase more than 10 by doubling up. At least we are consistent. Click on the highlighted words to take you to the posts and on a walk down Miller Memory Lane.

10. Nebraska joins the Big 10...and our family stays intact...until next year...
9. 'Til We Meet Again - Not every big event of the year can be happy, but we hold onto the joy in sadness. For all those we have loved and lost this past year and before. Praise God we will meet again!
8. Our new park! Since the twins are still doing things like pretending to build a park like Papa or saying things while they swing like, "Mommy, remember when Papa and Poppy and Daddy built our new park?" I would say this was a big event!
7. Lucas' ordination - it isn't every day one of us makes it into the Top 10, but this was once-in-a-lifetime big.
6. Our Summer Trip - Long Island (5 years in a row with these friends!!) and Boston (we couldn't feature all the posts from this trip, although we loved them all. But the title of the one we picked says it all).
5. BIG family additions! Our Nephew and shortly after a new Sister! YAY!!
4. A Leap of Faith - Officially telling bloggy world about our call to adoption. There have been follow ups. Latest news is that we hope to start the home study process in January (earlier would be better...we'll keep you posted).
3. In a year FILLED with twinner milestones, we couldn't decide which should be included. We went with Big Kid Beds (mommy still sheds an occasional tear) and their First Christmas Program (wayward puppy and all)!
2. A Hospital Visit more traumatic for Mommy & Daddy than anyone else!
1. Let's face it, a Snapshot in Time of our children and another Birthday under our belts are always going to rank #1 with Mommy and Daddy!

But wait! There's more! I normally don't include pictures, but I had some Christmas pictures that I wasn't sure could make it into the already gigantic Christmas post (that, quite frankly, I'm not sure I'll ever get done). So here are a few pictures (which is a new addition to the Annual Top 10)
If it weren't for the sunspot, this was the best shot of the 2 of them.
I tried to use our homemade wrapping paper as a backdrop. They preferred curtains for a grand entrance (or peek-a-boo)!

I seriously can't get enough of these bright baby blues!

But wait! There's more! One last post that was too cute to exclude (ok, so really, you're lucky I didn't just include links to all 100 from this past year...)!

Happy 2012 to everyone! May it be a year filled with blessings!!

December 28, 2011

100 Posts

I was going to try to do an even 100 posts for the year 2011, but I'm going to end up going over. So, for the 100th post, an adorable video. The twins at their best - doing one of their favorite things, working together, and having a blast :)

December 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Lucas' birthday is right before Christmas. This means that sometimes it gets a little lost in the shuffle. Earlier in the year, Lucas joked that he wanted me to plan a party for him like I do for the kids. "You want a theme party too?" I joked back. And then I decided I would do one! It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the kids really enjoyed it.
Basketball! Because I already had a lot of things around the house to pull it together, and it is his favorite thing to play with the kids.
I took the twins to the store to get presents for Daddy. They were very specific about what they wanted to get him. Candy (Allie picked gummy bears and Ryan picked sour gummy worms. Both favorites of Daddy...and them). And pop (or Daddy's special juice...which probably sounded a bit fishy to the other people in the store...). I got Lucas some laundry bins. Sounds like the worst gift ever, but we have a laundry control issues, and it drives Lucas nuts more than anything. We've had trouble finding a solution that would work. So I carefully thought out a system, purchased some bins that would work, painted on them with a little chalkboard paint (so we can write what goes into them, but change it if needed), and he is thrilled! He says I gave him the gift of a happy, organized home :)
A scoreboard themed banner.
Food is a big part of our birthdays. For breakfast we made monkey bread, and for dinner I made his favorite meal - Gleasons. They are like dumplings, and they are a "Grandma" specialty. I have avoided making them for years (lets just say that my attempts at her homemade bread resulted in a lot of "This doesn't taste like Grandma's. What did you do wrong?" But I decided to try it this year. And I invited his brother and H over to enjoy the gleasons with us (before I thought through the possibility of them not turning out...). Thankfully, they tasted ok. I even made homemade bread (a different recipe than grandma's though. I just can't compete with her homemade bread!) He loved the dinner. And it was so fun having some family to surprise him and celebrate his birthday with us! Too bad I was so busy with the gleasons that I forgot to take pictures...
With Daddy before bedtime.
Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you so much!

December 23, 2011

Christmas Program

This year the twins participated in their very first church Christmas program! I was so excited. At first I thought they were just going to sing "Away in a Manger" at the end. But they ended up having parts! The play featured the gospel parallels found in classic Disney stories. The first featured was "Snow White," and the "little kids" were the dwarfs!
Allie was convinced the Mic was for her...
Ry-guy exiting. He calls this his "Hi-Ho" costume.
The kids were featured again in the "101 Dalmatians" where they played the dalmatians. My children refused to wear the puppy ears...
Allie reaching for the Microphone again. This time her friend, E, stepped in.
Ry-guy found a spot, and stayed. He picked one where he could rest his head and be comfortable.
Sometimes he was joined by H (yes, their cousin got to be in the play with them! So much fun to see them up there all together!).
Sometimes he was joined by Allie (who was all over the stage, so it wasn't surprising that she bounced up there).
They exited for the last skit. And then had to return at the end to sing a few songs. Allie snuck through the door a little early for some solo time on stage...
All the kids singing "Away in a Manger" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
Allie sang loudly the whole time.
Ryan didn't sing at all.
H sang some of the time.
So they all balanced out :)
They couldn't stop playing with their shirts.
Before the play, we talked about how we should stand up front. In one spot. Not on the floor. Not running around and not playing with anything. Before we went in, Ryan said to me, "Mommy, I will listen, and stand still really well." He did. Perfectly. Allie was another story. She was all over. She would dance down the aisle, and then back up. She was in the choir loft. She sat in the chairs behind the pulpit. She sat on the stairs. It was both frustrating and comical :) And so, here is a game I like to call "Where's Allie?"
Where's Allie?
There she is!
Still don't see her? Check the choir loft.
Where's Allie?
There she is!
Yup. My child was the only one that had to be carried off-stage.
While the little kids (especially my kids) added a bit of unpredictability to the play, they also added a lot of humor :) Plus, I love it when they get to participate in church activities, and feel an active part of the church family.. And I love that our church family welcomes their unpredictability.

December 19, 2011

Christmas Adventure

I'm behind. I have more posts coming. But for some reason Blogger is doing weird things when I'm signed in (and I can never remember Lucas' password), so I haven't been able to post. But here are some pictures from our most recent Christmas adventure!

We went to see the Nite Lights like last year. This year, I was far more prepared and had my camera with me! We drove through the lights (I couldn't get any decent pictures, but believe me, it is amazing. Their website shows some of the display, but it doesn't even come close. Some of them look like they are moving, some are choreographed with music. It is an entire fairground full of lights. We love it. You end at the Winter Wonderland where we managed to sneak in another train adventure! Only you can't see the train in any of the pictures, because I was sitting on it...but it was a short train ride around a little loop where you got another view of some of the lights.
"It's the Music Nativity!"
Ryan's favorite display - the grandstand covered with lights that were choreographed with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Ryan loves all their music)
A snowman!
Then we got to pet the real live reindeer! The twins think they are so cool. They've been talking about reindeer ever since.
They have a big Christmas tree festival with lots of trees to walk through. Allie was in love with the fake snow. She played in it, sat in it, took fistfuls of it and threw it in the air...
They also had a puppet show. This was their favorite last year, so we were excited for them to see it this year.
At first they were both really excited.

But one of the puppets is a grinch-looking cyclops...and Ryan wasn't a big fan. He spent the rest of the puppet show like this:
Ooops. Oh, well. The twins kept saying "That was a wonderful Christmas Adventure!" So I would say it was an overall success. If you live in our area, you have to check this out. Seriously, I think it might be one of our favorite annual traditions!

December 09, 2011

Sensing a Theme

Ok, a few pictures of our Christmas decorations. Not because you asked. Or even because you care. But because I've been sick since we got home, and decorating is pretty much the only thing I have managed to accomplish all week, and I want to show it off!
The tree!
The twins and I hung snowflakes up all over - in their room, by the front door, and on the random bar hanging up in our living room!
My favorite addition! Our piano!
The twins' tree. They decorated it pretty much all by themselves (I put on the lights, higher ornaments, and bow at the top).
Please, notice the incredible amounts of tinsel. They like the sparkle and they could put it on by themselves, so I let them go to town :)
But the most beloved decoration in our house?
The train.
I would say that, if we were to pick a theme for this Christmas, it would be trains. It was un-intentional. First we got out our toy train from last year - which has been a favorite toy since it came out! Then we went and saw the trains at the living nativity - cementing their love. The train under the tree? It has become their favorite thing.
Giving rides.
Yes...this derailed the train...
I don't mind the theme. I think its great that they love trains. I always liked them too :) I do feel a little badly that this is where it ends. I have have no more fabulous train surprises up my sleeve. Had I known the train under the tree would be SUCH a huge hit, I might have saved it for closer to Christmas!