Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Days 14 and 15

Day 14 our activity was to decorate the Christmas tree. Micah loved helping us decorate. He kept picking up ornaments and saying, "ball." He even tried to put them on the tree. He's seen a lot of decorated Christmas trees so he knew that they go on the tree. He's still very curious about the tree and likes to walk over to it and touch the ornaments. He's pretty good about being nice, though, and not pulling them off. I can't wait for next year when he can help decorate even more!

Our activity for day 15 was to listen to fun Christmas music. We have Christmas music playing in our house pretty much 24/7, but I put on a new CD for this. Micah has a children's Christmas CD and we put it on and had a little dance party. I tried to video tape it, but every time I brought out the camera he stopped and smiled. He's such a ham and totally knows what the camera is for! Maybe we'll have another dance party when Daddy's home so he can distract him away from the camera and I can get a video of it. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Days 11, 12, and 13

Since I'm a bit behind blogging I'm going to do three days of our advent calendar today. The first was to write a letter to a family member. My sister, Brittan, just recently moved out of my parents' house and into her own apartment. I know how much I love getting mail so I thought we should write to her. I got one of our Christmas cards out and wrote a little message from Micah. Then, I gave him a pen and the card and pushed him up to the table and let him scribble for a minute. He wasn't sure what to do at first, but then when he saw the pen writing he got really excited. I was slightly worried that he was going to write all over my table so it didn't last too long, but he still got some of his own writing in. :)

Day 12 our activity was to cut down our Christmas tree. This is a tradition Brad and I started two years ago, our second Christmas together. We went to Tammen Treeberry Farm and drove around for quite a while before finding our tree. Brad took us way out back and I thought for sure we were going to get stuck in the mud. We ended up finding our tree in the same spot we found it last year--pretty close to the front. Leave it to a man to have to drive out of the way! :) Anyway, we found a great tree and Micah loved walking around once we got out of the car. He really liked touching all the trees and kept saying, "Wow!"

Our activity for Day 13 was to go sledding or ice skating. Well, there wasn't enough snow for us to go sledding and Micah is obviously too young to go ice skating. However, we did go to Chicago Children's Museum this past weekend. And they have a special winter exhibit complete with an "ice rink." So, we took Micah's shoes off and let him go. Just so you know, there was no ice, it was just a slightly slipper floor. :) He had a blast. The big kids were throwing "snowballs" and Micah wanted to get in on the action! I think it was good for his first time ice skating, but I can't wait to take him to a real ice rink!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Days 9 and 10

Our activity for day 9 was to watch a Christmas movie with a special treat. Brad waited patiently all day for this one. After dinner, we got Micah in his pajamas, then sat down on the couch to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Earlier we'd made peanut butter blossom cookies so we had those while watching the movie. Surprisingly, Micah sat through most of the movie--that might have had something to do with the special treat. ;) This is definitely a tradition that Brad and I hope will carry on.

Day 10's activity was Christmas pajamas. That pretty much speaks for itself. I bought Micah some Christmas pajamas and he got to wear them. I don't think he was too excited about it, but that's okay!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent Days 7 and 8

Sorry. I got a bit distracted this week because Brad is on vacation and we went away for a couple of days. But we've been doing our best to keep up with the advent calendar, and I'll continue to post what we've been doing.

It just so happened that we got a bit of snow on the ground last week. That day the activity was hot chocolate made special for you. So, Brad bundled Micah up and took him out in the snow. When they came back in we made "moderately warm" chocolate for Micah and hot chocolate for us. We even put marshmallows in it, which Micah really liked!

Day 8 was to read a new Christmas book. Luckily, we checked out some Christmas books from the library not too long ago. So, we picked out a book, sat on the couch and started reading. Micah usually loves being read to, but I think he was a little curious and so kept trying to get down. He wanted to take the book with him and we were worried he'd rip the pages. We don't often get to sit all three of us and just relax so that was really nice. And I'm sure we'll be reading lot of Christmas books in the days to come!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent Days 5 and 6

Day 5's activity was to wrap presents. Luckily, I already have plenty of presents to wrap. Micah helped me a bit, but really he was more interested in tearing the paper and opening the boxes!

Day 6 our activity was to go to the library and pick out some new Christmas books. Usually we walk to our library because it's only four blocks away, but we decided we were going to go to a different library because it's bigger and has a better children's section. It was so nice! Micah loved sitting at the tables and doing the puzzles (something our library doesn't even have). He also loved walking around the library, he thought he was big stuff. With a little help from him, we picked out a couple Christmas books and brought them home to read. I think we will definitely be going back to that library!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent Day 3 and 4

Day 3 for our advent calendar was to make an ornament or decoration. I found this really cute idea on Pinterest for how to hang your Christmas cards so I decided to try it. It was really easy to make. However, I'm not completely happy with mine. It will do for now, but I think I'd like to use stamps next time for the letters and maybe add some Christmas stickers (something I still plan on doing, but I have to get to a craft store). But here's what it looks like right now.

Oh, and Micah loved helping me with the ribbon.

Day 4 was a special Christmas treat. I made Rice Krispie treats and dyed them green. Micah wasn't much of a help, but he held on to my leg and whined while I was making them, so I guess that counts. I did take a picture, but it's not a good picture so I'll spare you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Day 1 and 2

Even though I haven't been writing about it, we have been opening our advent activities every day ang *trying* to do the activity. I'm a little bit behind, but we're still having fun.

The first day our activity was to take a wagon ride through the lights in Orland Park. As soon as Brad got home from work that night, we bundled up in the car and headed out to Orland. Micah decided he wanted to walk rather than ride in the wagon. That proved to be a bit of a challenge, as it does any time we let Micah walk free. But we made it to the end of the path nonetheless. And then we put him in the wagon for the walk back. He wasn't too happy about it, but we were tired of chasing him around. He was fascinated by the lights, however, and had to walk up to every single one and comment, "Ooooo! Wow!" It was so cute!

Day 2's activity was to decorate the windows in Micah's bedroom. I wanted to buy some Christmas window clings that he could put on the windows, knowing he would take them off every day. However, they only had the gel clings. Micah had a lot of fun trying to put them in his mouth. So, after about one minute we had to move the clings up to the top part of his window...and to the guest room window (once again up high as he tries to get them from that window, too).

Stay tuned for more of our advent activities!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Preparing for Christmas

I cannot believe it's been so long since I last posted. Having a one-year-old keeps me busy! But with my favorite time of year upon us I just had to get back in the swing of things.

Thanks to some friends I now have another addiction: pinterest. As if I didn't have enough things to keep me occupied while Micah takes his naps (cleaning the house being at the bottom of the list), now I like to spend hours on the computer looking at other people's fun, creative crafts, activities, decorations, recipes, etc. Seriously. I spend way too much time looking at pins. Anyway, I've seen a lot about advent calendars. Growing up we never had an advent calendar. I didn't really understand what they were. But the calendars I was finding on Pinterest were activity calendars. Instead of finding a chocolate inside, there's something fun to do. An activity that shares the spirit of the season.

I am determined to make Christmastime a fun, magical time at our house. I want every day to be special. I want the coming birth of Jesus to always be on our mind. I want to be excited about spending time together as a family, baking cookies, and making decorations. So, I was in search of the perfect activity advent calendar. I found it! I quickly found 24 activities that I thought we could do with Micah, even though he's so young. Then, I found a way to create the calendar that was creative and different. I have to admit, it's not quite done yet. I still have to hang it, but when it's done I'll post a picture. Oh, and I really like to make things by hand, not with the computer, but I don't have a lot of Christmas stickers/embellishments so it's not as cute as I'd like it to be. I'm hoping to keep the idea the same, but improve it's look as the years go on.

My goal is to take a picture of us doing every activity and then I'll post about it later that night. Right now Brad is out with Micah and they have the camera with them (the only downfall of keeping it in the diaper bag), so I'll have to post what we've done with pictures later.

In the meantime, what are you doing to prepare for Christmas? I'd love to hear about your traditions and what you're looking forward to!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Preparing for Christmas

What's on your Christmas to-do list this year?

I swore to myself that this year I would be on top of things for Christmas. I was going to buy presents all year long so that it didn't hit us all at once. I'd get our Christmas cards ordered early. I'd gather recipes that I want to try. Bake cookies and freeze them so that I'm not baking 5 different cookies in one day.

I can't say that I'm off to a bad start. It's not even Thanksgiving yet. But I definitely did not buy Christmas presents all year long. The problem with that is knowing exactly who you have to buy for (something that seems to change for us every year). And what they want. Or you have to know them well enough to be able to just buy something without suggestions. I have to be honest I am not confident enough to buy for at least half of the people on our list without some suggestions. Which usually means I can't shop until after Thanksgiving. I'm ordering our Christmas cards this weekend. A little bit later than I'd like, but not terrible. The problem is choosing ones that I like. I prefer to make our cards, but I also like them to be pictures. I just haven't seen anything that I'm in love with and want to copy. So, I'm stuck shuffling through all of the pictures sights choosing the one that looks the least like everyone else's while also not costing me an arm and a leg.

I have some recipes I want to try. And my plan is to start baking cookies next weekend. So, I'm not off to a terrible start.

What about you? What's on your to-do list for Christmas? How are you making progress on that list?

Monday, November 14, 2011

There's Something About Grand Rapids

Okay, before I get much further, I do have to give a little disclaimer here. I use the words "Grand Rapids" to refer to all of Western Michigan, really. Because none of my friends live in Grand Rapids anymore. I don't even go to Grand Rapids anymore. But I still call it Grand Rapids.

This past weekend I drove up to Grand Rapids for a friend's baby shower. I have made this drive probably 100 times and every time it makes me so excited. Once I hit a certain spot on the highway my stomach just fills with butterflies because I am so excited to be there. There's something about Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is like my perfect place. Seriously. It represents so much to me. Hands down it is the place where I experience the most spiritual growth in my life. Not only did I learn how to dig deeper into the Bible, but I met people who had a deep love for Scripture. People who truly felt a burden to pray for me. People who you could tell just by looking at them that they loved to spend time with God. I am so encouraged by the culture in Grand Rapids. It is assumed that you go to church there, you're not looked down on for it. Families spend Sunday afternoons together, eating dinner, playing games, and just relaxing. Not running around with everyone separate.

I know I'm making sweeping generalizations, but this is what Grand Rapids is to me.

It's a family-oriented place. A place where I feel comfortable raising my children. A place where my children can be encouraged and grow in their faith, where they will see other people around them living the life that we tell them about. They can be surrounded by spiritual mentors.

Grand Rapids is where I met my life-long friends. Girls that I grew into friendship with. We were friends before we had husbands (even before we had boyfriends!). Before we had jobs. Before we had kids. We're not friends because we're in a mom's group together. Or because we go to the same Bible study. While I love all of my friends and I love having friends from those groups, these friends knew me before all of that. These are the friends that I can talk about my spiritual life with. We talk about the struggles of being a wife or a mother. We talk about our shortcomings. We encourage each other in our faith. We encourage each other to be better wives and mothers. We have serious conversations. Conversations that I long to have more often. When I leave Grand Rapids I feel stronger. Challenged. If Kathy can do this for Jon, I can do it for Brad. What Sarah said really made me think. Erica tried this so I can try it, too. While I do feel like we could go even further, I always walk away feeling like these are the kinds of friendships God wants me to have. The friendships I long for. And it makes me miss Grand Rapids even more.

Of course, it's not all serious. We have lots of fun, too. We go to the beach. We scrapbook. We shop. We have fun together. It's like the perfect mix of encouragement and support and fun. Sometimes I just want to pack up everything and move to Grand Rapids. Of course, I know the truth is if I were to move there it wouldn't always be like this. We do all have lives. Families to take care of. We couldn't get together every night and scrapbook. Or go out to dinner ever week. We might still go weeks without actually talking to each other. But I still like to dream. To think that if I moved there, life would be perfect. But the fact is it wouldn't be. And I can't move there. So, instead, I have to deal with my reality. And I think part of that is developing those friendships here. Finding what I love about Grand Rapids here where I live. It's hard to remember, but it took years to form the friendship that I have with those girls. And we saw each other every day. The only thing that stood in our way of growing our friendship was school work, and often we could do even that together. So, I'll still be encouraged by my friendships in Grand Rapids. And I will cherish them. But I will also continue to work on and grow the friendships that I have here at home, remembering that if this is where God wants me to be, he will provide all that I need.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Micah's Party

We had Micah's birthday party last Saturday at my parents' house. It turned out really nice. The weather was pretty decent until the sun went down and it started to get cool. But then we headed inside and all was well.

Grandpa was ready for a showdown at high noon.

Some decorations.

A couple of cowgirls.

Birthday boy eating his dinner (he had to trade his cowboy hat for a warmer one).

Opening his presents. In the middle of opening he stood up and started clapping as if to say, "Thanks, everyone! I'm done opening now."

Enjoying his cake. He was a little unsure at first and seemed afraid to touch it, but after some coaxing from Mom and Dad he was all about it!

And, last, our little one-year-old cowboy. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Baby is 1!

Wow. One year. This year has definitely flown by, but I can hardly remember when Micah was a newborn. I have learned so much this past year. I don't think I really knew what I was in for when Micah was born. I thought I did, but you can't truly know until you've had a baby.

I had no idea how full of love I could feel. I've loved my parents, my siblings, my friends, my husband, but the love I have for Micah is so different. I have given up things for him that I never thought I'd be okay giving up. I spend more time in my house because I know how important it is that he get his naps. I stay home rather than go out with my friends because I want to spend my time with him. I find fulfillment in him. He makes me complete.

He has taught me so much about Christ's love for us, too. I used to think I understood it, but I've experienced it in a whole new way now. I want nothing more than for Micah to know God and grow in his love. I know that I am his number one example. He has to see Jesus in me. That means I have to live a life of integrity. Always. What I want to see in Micah I have to live out myself. Every day I pray that Micah would just come to know God at an early age and that he would have a deep love for His Word. That means I need to read Bible stories to him, I need to memorize Scripture with him.

I have learned so much from my baby boy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue learning from him. I look forward to many more birthdays. And in closing, can you believe how much my little man has grown?!

12 Months

I can hardly believe my baby is 1 year old! I've been thinking about this day for a long time. Thinking about how I would feel, what I would do, even what I would blog. First, I think I'll do my usual re-cap of the month. I actually have some time to catch up on since I never blogged about Micah turning 11 months. So, here goes:

*Micah got his second tooth. He doesn't quite understand that when he puts Mommy or Daddy's finger in his mouth and bites down it now hurts them!

*He had his first sleepover. He stayed the night at Grammie's house so that Brad and I could spend the night away to celebrate our birthdays. I was really worried at first about being away from him over night for the first time, but we all did very well. It was nice to get away and spend time just me and Brad. It was very refreshing to not have to get up in the middle of the night and to wake up when we were ready in the morning!

*Micah started taking his first steps. He is now officially a walker. He's still slightly unstable but he chooses to walk places rather than crawl and he's getting around quite quickly!

*We went to the Museum of Science and Industry and Micah loved touching all of the exhibits.

*Micah has learned several more signs including "eat," "water," and "dog." He also plays "So big."

*We went to Grand Rapids overnight and Micah got to meet his new friend, Sofia.

*While in Grand Rapids we also went to Art Prize. It was really cool to walk around and see all of the exhibits. It was a beautiful day and Micah enjoyed Daddy wearing him on his back so that he could see everything.

*Micah has officially said his first word: "Dog." He says it and signs it all the time. One of his favorite things to do is look out the window and watch the dogs in our neighborhood going for walks. Whenever he hears a dog bark anywhere he says and signs it. Sometimes he'll even "woof." It's so cute!

*Micah got his first pair of real shoes.

*We spent the night at Uncle Doug and Aunt Carrie's house in Milwaukee. He had a great time walking around the lakefront and showing them what's in store for them (they're also expecting a baby--a month before us!).

*He went apple picking for the first time with our good friends.

*We went to Fall Fest in Manhattan. Micah had a lot of fun riding the ponies, going down the slide, and going on the hay ride.

*We also went to a pumpkin patch for the first time. It was so much fun playing in the hay and the corn pit.

*Micah had his first birthday party. It was a Western themed party because we call him "Dude." He did great at the party and loved opening the presents.

*We went to Boo at the Zoo with Grammie, Boompa, Auntie Brittany, and his cousin Kylie. He rode in the wagon we got him for his birthday and loved being able to see everything.

*Today we took him to see the school's costume parade. Then, we went trick-or-treating on our street. Our street is made up of mostly older people and they love seeing Micah when we're outside walking. He was a total ham and smiled at all of the grandmas as they were "oohing" and "aahing" over him. He knows how to pull their strings!

*We also went out for dinner tonight. My favorite food is Aurelio's pizza and we decided early on that Micah would get to try pizza for the first time on his birthday and it had to be from Aurelio's. So, that's where we went for dinner tonight. I think it's safe to say Micah loves pizza, too. :)

Here's some pictures of everything we did this month (only October pictures are included):

I think in order to not make this post super long I'll post tomorrow about some reflections on Micah's first birthday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Picking

One of my favorite fall traditions is apple picking. One year while Brad and I were still in college we decided to go apple picking. We asked our good friends, the Lows, if they wanted to join us. By my mom's recommendation we went to Country Line Orchard in Hobart, IN. And we loved it! The place was so nice with lots of apple trees and even a nice pumpkin patch. And their apple donuts are to die for! That year we picked way too many apples and we each got our own pumpkin. After picking apples we headed to Brad's mom's house to bake some apple pie and carve our pumpkins. And *wah-lah* a tradition was born.

This year marked the fifth annual apple picking trip for the Kolars and Lows. We love going with the Lows and it's so fun to see how our families are growing. What started as four adults is now four adults, three children, and a bun in the oven. Of course, our activities have changed a bit. We spend a lot less time picking apples and a lot more time going through the children's zoo or riding the tractor (did I mention the three kids are all boys--they love that tractor ride!). But we always have so much fun. And this year we decided to forgo the pumpkin carving because it was just too much for the kids who were starting to get cranky and overtired. But we still baked some apple crisp and enjoyed it together (my favorite part of the whole day!).

We've had all kinds of weather on our trips: from almost freezing temperatures where we were dying for hot chocolate to literally hot weather where we needed to get inside for some air conditioning. We've also learned a thing or two along the way: each family does not actually need 4 bags of apples to take home, honeycrisps are everyone's favorite (everyone! They're always gone off the trees), and Amanda is the only one that prefers green apples to red (although we did find out this year that Issac prefers green, too--go Isaac!). We always enjoy our time together, and honestly, it's not about the apples. It's about a fun family tradition that we have with another family. A family that we really connect with. A family that encourages Brad and I in so many ways. A family that we aspire to be like: people who put Christ first in everything that they do, who truly live out his love to the people around them. We are always so encouraged when we spend time with them. I want my children to grow up around their children because I know that those boys will grow up to be caring, loving, Goldy men. And I want my children to be surrounded by people like them. That's why I love our tradition of apple picking every fall. And I'm so excited to continue it even as our children get older and start complaining about having to go apple picking. ;)