Friday, January 27, 2012

Christmas Evening

After a whirlwind of a day, we drove two hours south to spend Christmas evening with Matt's family. Following an incredible dinner with his amazing extended family, we cozied up at his parents' house for our final Christmas celebration. It was absolutely the most perfect ending to such a glorious day.






Matt and I continue to ask God, "why?" Why are we so blessed? We have two healthy children. Two incredible families. Not to mention a full pantry, a warm home, unlimited freedoms, delightful friends, a beautiful church, and so so so much more. There is no good answer to our questioning. But we continue to ask God to remind us that all of these gifts are from Him. To Him be the glory. To Him be the honor. To Him be the thanks. Forever and ever and ever.

Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Following our morning together as a family, we ventured a half mile up the road to my parents' house. I'm not quite sure what happens in this half mile, but from our house to my parents' house, Santa becomes extremely more generous. Who needs FAO Schwarz when you have Oma & Opa's house?








I wish I could say that the spoiling stopped there. But within hours of this fairytale we headed south to Matt's parents' house. I should add that my kids are the only grandkids, nieces and nephews on BOTH sides of our families. It shouldn't even be legal.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Christmas Morning

I don't scrapbook. I think the last scrapbook I made was after my sister and I spent 10 days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at 18 and 21 years old. It's the kind of book that you never want to show your children because then you'll be forced to spew lies such as, "Tequila?! What's tequila? No, silly, that's gold water and that nice man is only helping mommy stay hydrated. The Mexicans use very small glasses. Very small." Come to think of it, we should probably bury the book. Or burn it.

Anyway, my point is that this blog is really meant to scrapbook my kids' lives so that one day there will be proof that their childhoods were actually happy, regardless of what they tell their therapists. And won't the media just love me when they discover the thousands of public pages of pictures and anecdotes about Henry when he runs for President? After all, my graduate school advisor once told me that with a name like Henry Hooper, my son would either be the President of the United States or a serial killer. I gave my son the name anyway. I'm a glass is half-full kind of gal.

All that to say, the next few posts might not excite you that much, unless you're the future President and his little sister's grandparent or aunt (speaking of names, if Henry Hooper is destined to be the President, what in the world might become of Harper Hooper? Oh dear heavens, I think I need some gold water.)

Phew. All better.

Oh right, back to the point. The next few posts will cover Christmas Day 2011. It was by far our most wonderful Christmas to date, and we continue to be crazy overwhelmed by our blessings. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Lord.

Christmas Day began at our house. Just a few gifts under the tree. A couple of items in the stockings. An abundance of life in the Gospel of Luke. And a family who couldn't be more full of joy and gratitude.











It was an absolutely blessed morning.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to Oma!




We love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Almost Christmas

A couple of our almost-Christmas traditions include:

Visiting the incredible train display at the main library. And across from the library is a life-size nativity display (not pictured). The nativity is one that my family visited when I was a kid. This is the second year that we took our kids to see the train display and the nativity. Both activities are free! Columbus is awesome like that.





My mom's Christmas Eve party (preceded by Christmas Eve service). This year she had 14 kids, 13 who were five and under. It was absolute mayhem, and I loved it (here's a look at 2010's party).





Thinking back, I believe the Christmas Eve party tradition started at our house three years ago, but the memory is fuzzy. I have a vague memory of my beautiful friend, Marla, and her family sitting around my living room after our church's Christmas Eve service. If you've been to our condo, you know why this tradition has moved to my mom's house. 14 kids in our condo might take down the entire complex. I only wish I had pictures of that party three years ago. Ugh, pregnancy brain, why do you hate me?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Only slightly less terrifying than last year.

What is it about us whacko parents and our insistence on taking our kids to sit on Santa's lap? Why is this bizarre tradition a must-do on our list every.stinkin'.year? And what makes it even crazier is that my son hates it! Someone needs to toss me onto a fat ol' dude's lap and let his wiry whiskers brush up against my sweet face. I deserve the torture.

Nonetheless, we are a family with strong traditional values, which means we don't miss this ridiculous tradition no matter the torment.

For the third year in a row, we met friends at a community fire station for a bit o' Christmas fun. And because we are really amazing parents, we let the kids sit with Santa first as to get the worst over with. Aren't we thoughtful?

Oh, and don't fret. This year was actually slightly less horrific than last year's experience. This year Harper actually warmed up to the ol' man (she didn't mind him so much in 2009, but something tells me she was a bit clueless). Henry was still frightened, but I think my minis are actually starting to find this kind of torture bearable. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Notice that Henry is the little guy cutout of most of the pictures because he refused to get on the truck. In one picture, you can even see that he is wiping his tears. I made him stand on that dang truck anyway. It's like he doesn't even care about making memories. Well, he cared, but not until Mr. C handed him some candy. What a scrooge.




After the torture chamber, the kids got to make crafts, eat cookies, watch a movie, and pick out stickers and temporary tattoos. It's good clean fun, and as you can see by these pictures, they have completely forgotten about the nightmarish Santa encounter.

Us gals thought we should get a picture of, well, us. There are six kids between us, and at the time that this picture was taken, there were two more on the way. My beautiful friend, Amy (far left), has since had her baby (Grace Elizabeth), and that means I'm next. Woot!!!

Not to be outdone, our men decided they needed a picture of, well, them. Too bad they got a bit carried away. This was supposed to be a good clean fun family affair. The photo shoot started to head south the minute Billy and Justin stood next to each other (see the two dudes with hair in the middle). Note to self: never let them stand next to each other in a photo shoot ever again.



Oh, oh! And this is Bobby (left) and Matt (my man). See, they really are two different people. They are often mistaken for the other (even by our families), and there are some folks who most definitely think they are the same person (which makes me wonder, do they think Mary Kate & I are polygamous? I've always wanted a sister wife.)

Here are the 6. From left to right: James, Henry, Kaitlyn, Harper, Gregory & Ethan. I know what you're thinking, they are perfect.

This picture makes it look like the three in the middle were bullying Gregory and kicked him out of the group, but that's really not the case. We have a zero tolerance policy for bullying (and drinking and smoking), thankyouverymuch.

But gee whiz, what are they laughing about? I have no earthly idea, but I really want in on it.







My only regret is that there is not a picture of us parents taking pictures of the kids. All 8 of us were paparazzied together snapping pictures and making Cheshire Cat smiley faces in an effort to get these kids to sit and look our direction. At one point I turned around and the entire room was staring at us. We've become those parents. And it's worth every ounce of humiliation.