December 31, 2012

Top 10 of 2012

I realize that I have a lot of Christmas to still record (and I will, hopefully soon), but I like to end each year with a list of our Top 10 posts.  As usual, I had a difficult time narrowing it down, and managed to squeeze a few more than 10 posts into my Top 10 list (my blog, my rules).  Click on the highlighted words to go to each post and take a walk down memory lane - or at least the short portion of memory lane that covers this past year.

Top 10 of 2012
#10 A Snapshot in Time - I wish I had done more of these...maybe that will be a goal of 2013.
#9 Fire Safety Day - Sure it might not have had the long-term impact I had hoped, but it was a good thing, and will continue to be a tradition.
#8 A reunion - while there were a lot of wonderful things about Easter that were worth recording, this reunion with college friends who were like family made it especially monumental.
#7 The twins' first book - I'm so proud.  They possess abounding creativity, and I love the variety of things they produce, but this is probably my current favorite.
#6 A variety of firsts including: First Fireworks, First VBS, First Trip to the Dentist, and a First for Mommy!  I love how many firsts there still were (and are) to experience!  
#5 Travel - from our massive Road Trip to our first Train Trip.  We had such amazing travel adventures last year!
#4 Our family's Newest Addition - even more special now that we have actually met him!!
#3 Twins Turn 3 (seemed fitting for the number) - all of the events and adventures surrounding the celebration of 3 amazing years.  Including not ONE, but TWO parties, and the worst birthday day yet.
#2 Officially On the List - sure, the wait is looking like it will be (a lot) longer than we expected, or hoped, but just being on the list is monumental.  And maybe...just year we will have an even better adoption post to include in the countdown.  Maybe.
#1 The event that revolutionized our entire lives.  Drumroll please.  Potty training!  Ryan and Allie's potty parties were events that were not only monumental firsts, but also special days filled with time with my children that I will always treasure.  And, as I spent time with family members over Christmas who were still doing the diaper thing with their children, I realized how thankful I am that we are a fully potty trained family!

And since I posted pictures last year, I feel totally pressured into posting them this year.  Here are a few (blurry) outtakes from a photo shoot I did for a present for a certain someone (see if you can guess who, based on the letters).  I think they probably had more fun making this present than any others we did this year!

Have some time to kill while waiting for the ball to drop and interested in taking a longer walk down memory lane?  Here are all of our Top 10 posts thus far: 2011, 2010, 2009.

We have been abundantly blessed by another year full of small moments, milestones, adventures, and people we treasure.  We thank God for each of these, and look forward to 2013.

Happy New Year!!

P.S. Because I want the Christmas posts to stay in December, I am back dating them.  Scroll down to see the newest posts!

December 30, 2012

Christmas - Round 2

We were blessed to have not one, but 2 Christmas mornings.  One at home, and the other at Nana and Poppy's (where we traveled after the Family Christmas Party).  The kids woke up so excited for presents!  They started with the stockings.
So excited about M&M's.  A long time favorite.
 I love this picture because of 1) H's pigtails mid-air and 2) her excited expression.
 A happy Nana in the midst of excited confusion.
 Apologies to uncle Grant (whose coffee hadn't quite kicked in yet), but it was the only picture I had of Baby T and his presents.
 H drumming on his brand new set of pots and pans.  I'm sure his parents are thrilled Uncle Luke taught him that trick!
Ryan's favorite present (EVER) was a new Bumble!!!  He was pretty much beside himself.  Then I suggested that he introduce his new Bumble to his old Bumble.  On the way down the hall he kept saying, "I bet they will like each other.  I hope they will be best friends."  But it seemed like he wasn't quite sure...
Meeting each other for the first time.
 They like each other!!
Since meeting, Ryan's New Bumble, Old Bumble, and Baby Bumble (who isn't pictured, but is a miniature version of Old Bumble) have become a family.  New Bumble (the biggest of the 3) is the Daddy, Bumble is the Mommy, and Baby Bumble is (of course) the baby.  Ryan is overjoyed with his Bumble family.  Allie is requesting a Bumble family of her own.

The rest of the time was spent with various fun family moments together.  There was some snowmobiling, some playing with new toys, some moments that were incredibly loud, and others that were incredibly sweet and delightfully quiet.
Nana reading to almost all of the cousins.
 Lucas and I got to enjoy many Aunt and Uncle moments.  I'm pretty sure Lucas' favorite was snuggling with a sleeping D.  Not only did he get to spend a significant amount of time cuddling with his sweet niece, but no one denied him the football he watched while she slept!

 Logan, Mindy, H and D left that evening, while we stuck around for one more night.  Ryan and Allie were desperate to take a bubble bath.  It wasn't long before an already pajama-d H wanted to join them.  They happily obliged and enjoyed some cousin tubby time.
H seemed especially thrilled with the surprise tubby time and his cousin companions.
And then, all too quickly, it was over.  We are home now.  Slightly tired by the whirlwind couple of weeks.  Feeling that it is a little surreal that the time we waited for so long is already over.  All the anticipation now sweet memories.  
Every moment of our Christmas declared by the twins as the "Best Ever."  
We are truly blessed.

December 29, 2012


As if our Christmas wasn't amazing enough, after my parents left we had only more fun in our future! First a wonderful evening with friends from college (one we hadn't seen since I graduated).  Then a trip up North where all of Lucas' family - plus an aunt, uncle, and the Indy cousins - stayed at a hotel with access to an indoor water park!!  Unfortunately, I didn't get a single picture of all of the cousins playing at the water park.  Ry-guy (who once had to go for special testing because the specialists thought he couldn't hear) did NOT like the echoing noises of the water park.  Especially when the giant bucket splashed water on everyone underneath.  He and I ended up escaping to the regular hotel pool (where I also couldn't take pictures because I had my hands full with him).  Long story short, in the end Ryan declared it "the Best Adventure Ever," so all was a success!
I did manage to snap a picture of a sleepy D snuggling with cousin Jeff while we waited in the hotel for everyone to be ready and packed up.  Aw.
 From there, we all went to Lucas' extended family Christmas party! Since 1988, they have enjoyed this tradition.  It is a long and cherished tradition that we love to attend whenever we are able.

I think the kids favorite part of the party was the cake walk.  Aunt Darleen did a fabulous job of planning games for the kids - and taking the time to make adorable parts of the game (like the beautiful, felt number pictures everyone is walking on below).  While the adults could only win 1 prize in the cake walk, she didn't limit the kids.  Fond of winning prizes, my children couldn't believe the number of amazing goodies they were able to take home! Walking.
My kids enjoying the walk.

Aside from games there is also always a ton of delicious food and fun time with family.
Cousin Jeff, confident in his manhood, shows off his coordinating purse and bow.
A relatively new tradition ("new" being relative to the number of years of the party) is a visit from Santa!
 **spoiler alert**  
Aunt Debbie, as she is fondly known by the fam.  
Everyone should have an Aunt Debbie.  She is kooky, and sometimes a little crazy, but she certainly brings laughter and joy to every get-together and her generosity knows no ends.  She made many - young and old - sit on Santa's lap to get one, or one of several, goodies.
You may notice, in the pictures above, that you almost always see the head or hands of one particular little Elf.  Sweet D was enthralled with Santa.  She barely left Santa's side, she gazed up at Santa adoringly, and, if Santa's arms were empty, she dove into them in a spontaneous hug.  At least one child's day was completely made by the visit from this jolly gift-giver!
 Then on to presents!  There is a massive gift exchange for all ages.  Of course, it was a wee bit difficult to keep all of the kids engaged during this time, so some parents got creative.
Little H getting a ride from his Daddy.
 While Lucas and I opt out of the gift exchange, Allie and Ryan are always a part.  As you can see, Allie couldn't wait to get her gift!
 She was even extremely excited to give the gift that she (and, interestingly enough, Harper) picked out.
And then the pictures end...because even though I knew I took several hundred pictures since the last time I charged the battery BEFORE Christmas, I didn't think to check it's charge before our trip up North (doh!).  But at the end of the party, Ryan and Allie told me it was the Best Christmas Party EVER.

All in all, I would say an extremely successful weekend overall.  And little did they know, Christmas still wasn't quite over...

December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas!

One of the great joys of this Christmas was having my entire family here on Christmas Eve.  One of the greatest bummers was not getting a single picture to document that.  Oh, well.  We were enjoying our time together so much that we never remembered the camera. 

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is the Christmas Eve service at the church.  I think this year might have been my favorite.  Lucas started with the children's message by talking with them about how Christmas is a birthday party, a celebration.  He gave them party hats and cake pops and (duh, duh, duhhhhh) noise makers!  He asked them not to blow them during the service, but to really go to town on the last song ("Joy to the World").  Then he gave a really wonderful sermon - using a slideshow he had put together - showing all of the wonders of the universe (our galaxy and beyond).  He showed the size, beauty, and majesty of the stars and read verses about the heavens declaring His glory and God holding the heavens in His hand.  And then he showed a picture of Jesus in the manger. The God who not only created the universe, but is so vast and great that He holds it in the palm of His hands, became a baby for us.  It put into perspective both our size in the whole of the universe, and our individual importance to the God that created it all.  Then we all stood in a circle and lit candles and sang "Silent Night."  And then...then we sang "Joy to the World."  The jubilant sound of the children blowing their noisemakers was perfect.  There wasn't a single person in the sanctuary who wasn't smiling, and it really set the mood for the Christmas celebration.
Goofing off in front of the tree before the Christmas Eve service.
We came home, got the kids to bed, played some games before we sent Nic and Ariel to her parents, and then got to work creating some Christmas magic.  Once again, I wasn't completely finished with my Christmas presents and nothing was wrapped.  Seriously, one of these years I will get organized.  Somehow, we still ended up in bed before midnight!

The next morning we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we opened presents! Ryan and Allie could hardly contain their excitement.

First we put our "presents for Jesus" under our little Christmas tree.  These were all of the things the twins did for others during advent.  We re-read each card and placed it under the tree.
Then the kids opened their presents.
Just before the present opening.
More than once Allie opened a present and yelled, "A box!  I love boxes!  I always wanted a box!  I love it!"  And then she would be beyond excited to discover the present was inside!
These monster trucks were the first present he opened, and he loved them so much that I didn't think we were going to get him to open any other presents!
Allie said her favorite present was this princess shampoo.
 He was, thankfully, as thrilled with the second present we talked him into opening!
His gift from Allie.  He has the best facial expressions!
(Note: since the writing of this he has discovered that the book includes the book on cd - with character voices!  After teaching him how to work the cd player, he has "read" it at least 5 times...and thanked Allie again each time!)
Opening her gift from Ryan.  She kept yelling, "Ryan, how did you know?  How did you know I would love this?"
As you may remember, our big present to them was the train table.  We saved so much money that we went ahead and bought their favorite Chuggington engines.  There are 3 so we wrapped up 2 and told them to find the last one.  I took them all over the house, having them check in each room before I suggested the basement.  They were crazy excited as they ran downstairs and rounded the corner.
And then they saw it.  And they paused for a fraction of a second.  And they breathlessly (and wordlessly) began to play.  It was almost as if they were afraid that, if they made any noise, it would disappear.
The rest of the day was pretty much filled with playing with toys.  They would play with one of their toys for a little while, but then would return to the train table.  There was a lot of time spent like this:
And a little spent like this:
It was inevitable that one of them would want one of the trains that the other had...

I made Christmas dinner.  It was basically a second Thanksgiving dinner.  Lucas' favorite meal is turkey with all the trimmings, so part of his gift is having that for Christmas dinner.  After my Thanksgiving fail, I was a little nervous.  But it turned out perfect.  Perhaps the best I've made ever.  I had to include a picture of my redemption turkey.
I have to end with two of my favorite pictures.  See, I made the beanbags.  They were a Christmas present.  But I didn't get the removable outer covers finished in time.  I thought about staying up until 4 am to finish them, and then I realized that they wouldn't care.  They would love the beanbags even without the covers (made out of a fabric they picked).  I'm so glad because I was right.  I still need to finish the covers, but they are loving them for now - especially during naptime.

I can't help but wonder if it gets better than this?  This age seems perfect for Christmas.  They were so excited, they were thrilled with boxes.  I'm sure it won't stay that way forever, but I love it right now.  I am cherishing the enthusiasm and appreciation of a Merry Christmas indeed.

December 27, 2012

The Best Christmas Program Ever

I will confess that the twins have only been a part of 2 (and somehow I suddenly can't remember any of the Christmas programs before my children played a part...), but I still feel pretty confident that this was the best Christmas program thus far.

I was actually supposed to be one of the helpers, but the twinners got sick with a long-lasting illness (which we discovered, basically after the fact, was RSV), and we missed the 2 Sundays before the program.  Not having made the practices, I was a little worried how they would do.

Allie was an angel and couldn't wait to play her favorite character from the Christmas story!
Before the program with one of her fellow-angel best friends.
Ryan was a sheep.  There was supposed to be a whole herd, but he ended up being the only one who was willing to go on stage!  At first, he was a little nervous about being in front of the church without mommy or daddy, but I encouraged him to stay with his shepherd (who also happens to be a friend).  He proceeded to be the best sheep ever and follow his shepherd EVERYWHERE!
He literally would not leave her side.
During the program, I was in charge of the wise men (who made their entrance from the back of the church) and the kids whose parts were finished.  This meant I didn't get the best pictures of the program, but I did get a few of the kids exiting (i.e. coming to me).
Following his shepherd, but refusing to say his line (baaaaa).
At the end of the program, all of the kids filed back in for the final songs ("Away in a Manger," "Go Tell it on the Mountain," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas").  I got many comments after about how everyone could tell the twins had been practicing at home - their voices certainly rang out over the rest of the crowd.
Is there anything better than a bunch of little (and a few older) voices singing?
My favorite chorus members.

This year, compared to last year, was vastly better.  The kids were, as always, super adorable, but they weren't running all over the stage.  They listened to direction and seemed to really know what was going on.  As a mom, this was one of the moments I will treasure in my heart.

Best Christmas Program Ever...or until next year...

December 26, 2012


Yes...I have about a million Christmas themed pictures...and a few posts to go along with them (including one of the most adorable Christmas programs ever).  Bear with me.  They will come.  Eventually.  But we've been lucky enough to have every single member of our family at our house at some point this past week!  That is a Christmas miracle, and I thought it warranted a post entirely designated to the family we love and have enjoyed seeing.

First and foremost.  Here it is.  THE picture of THE moment I have been waiting for since July.  Getting to hold my newest nephew for the first time!!!
Confession:  I totally hogged him.  They managed to get here before Nana (had she already been here I would have given her the Nana right of the first snuggle...but she wasn't).  And he was sick.  And I rocked him to sleep.  And it just didn't seem right to upset a poor, sweet, sick baby.  So I kept him.  I feel a little guilty.  

Confession: I don't really feel that guilty...

While I held (hogged) T, Allie and Ryan played with H.  H seemed to really enjoy playing with his cousins.  So much so that even though he isn't much of a hugger, he wouldn't stop hugging them.
 Allie and Ryan - apparently being "big" kids and "too cool" - got tired of the incessant hugs quickly.  We - the adults - thought it was adorable and kept trying to get pictures.
Cheesing for the camera.
 "No more, Auntie Kim!"
 During the brief window that we had the whole family in the same area, we gathered for family pictures.
A test shot.  Notice Allie holding her "precious babies" - a helicopter, and airplane, and a mini princess pail.
Photo credit: Heather Ann's Keepsake Photography
 Family pictures pictures!  There were, of course, moments of kids crying and stressed parents and closed eyes and funny faces and never everyone looking in the same direction at the same time.  But it was wonderful, and we got some great pictures.
Can you see what we used to distract the kiddos?  Though it didn't work on the youngest...
Photo credit: Heather Ann's Keepsake Photography
 It was a whirlwind less than 24 hours with Lucas' side and then a VERY long day poking around a VERY quiet house waiting for my family to show up.  They came by train.  They had lots of delays (one would think weather - which did delay the first train - but the second, perhaps more frustrating, delay was the result of the train that was coming to pick them up in Chicago hitting a tractor.  How often can you use that as an excuse for being late?  They finally arrived and we have been enjoying several days with them.
Playing games with Uncle Matt.
 Naptime with Papa.
 A bunch of hams.
 Reading with Papa.
 Sadly, my family leaves tomorrow (I'm not sure how long would be long enough...but I know they have never stayed that long yet).  Happily, we only have one (VERY) quiet day before we will get to see all of Lucas' family again (including extended family).  So the fun continues!

Sadly, I was having so much fun BEING with family, that there are many members of the family not pictured here because I forgot to get out my camera!  So Lala, Uncle G, Aunt Mindy, Uncle Logan, Uncle Nic and Aunt Ariel...I'm sorry.  Gigi refuses to be in I won't take the blame for that absence :)

We are so blessed to have such wonderful families and to get to spend time with them this Christmas!!