Friday, December 28, 2012

The One

"They" say when you're with "the one" you know.  I have to agree.  I didn't always know that Brad was my "the one," but when I knew it, I knew it.

I can't remember when it was that I first knew he was "the one."  I think it was actually at a time when we weren't together.  We broke up right before our senior year of high school and didn't get back together until the beginning of our sophomore year of college.  It was during that time that we both grew so much.  Watching Brad grow into a man of God was amazing.  He not only took his faith seriously, but started taking responsibility for his future family.  He knew what kind of man he needed to be for his future wife and children and he ran full force into becoming that man.  Seeing that determination in him and that desire to be the man God wanted him to be attracted me to him more than ever.  I knew in my heart that he was being prepared by God for me (much as I was also being prepared for him).  It took some time for us to mend our friendship and eventually decide to enter into a relationship again, but when we did, we both knew we were in it for the long haul.  Neither of us had any doubts about where the relationship would end.  We were just excited to see how the journey would get us there.

And what a ride it has been!  We have laughed together.  We've cried together.  We've been mad at each other and hurt by each other.  We've been disappointed.  We've been excited.  We have grown so much both individually and as a couple.  When we said "I do" five years ago we had no idea what God had planned for us.  It has been better than anything we could have imagined.  Now, we have no idea what God has planned for the next five years.  But there isn't anyone else I would rather be on this journey with than Brad, my "the one."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Homemade Christmas

Well, now that Christmas is over, I can write about how we decided to celebrate.  We went back and forth for quite a while about what we wanted to do to make Christmas focused on Jesus.  It's just hard to say that it's about Jesus when we're so focused with all of the presents under the tree.  We want our boys to know that it's about what God gave us that first Christmas two thousand years ago, and that can so easily get lost amidst all of the family parties, cookie baking, and gift giving.  At the same time, we want to keep the magic of Christmas alive because it is such a special time. And that's how it should be.  The gift that God gave us was the best gift we could ever receive.  It's something that should be celebrated.  It should last the whole season (the whole year, really), not just one day.  That's why we do our best to make the whole month of December special by doing different activities each day.

I've blogged about several things that we did to make Advent special,and I will blog more about what we did, but right now I want to focus on how we decided to share God's gift with others.  I highly recommend you read The Sparkle Box.  It's a wonderful book about how we can give back to Jesus on his birthday.  He doesn't want books or toys or clothes.  He wants us to share his love with those around us.  So, that's what we focused on this Christmas.  We bought gifts for several children in need through different organizations.  We also gave out gift cards to Starbucks or McDonald's to people on the street in Chicago.  We picked out something in the World Vision catalog.  But my favorite thing this year is we baked cookies and passed them out to our neighbors.  This was my favorite because of a card we got from the widow at the end of the street.  She talked about what a nice surprise it was.  Since her husband died last year, the holidays have been difficult for her, but our cookies (delivered by an adorable two-year-old!) brightened her day and were a nice treat for several days.  She mentioned how very thankful she was of us for thinking of her.  And that's what it's all about.  Sharing God's love with those around us.

Because I didn't want to be so focused on gifts this year, we decided to have a homemade Christmas.  All of the gifts we gave (with the exception of two) were homemade.  I made bows and headbands for my nieces, puzzle blocks for my nephew, fabric letter magnets for another niece, a car carrier for Brad's cousin, meat rubs for my dad, calendars for the grandmas, and a shelf for my mom.  Brad also made me a door hanging for our house (I love it!).  And I made (actually, I'm still in the process of making) him and the boys pajama pants.  I loved making all of the gifts and was so excited to see everyone's reactions when they opened them.  This is definitely something I hope to continue!  It was so rewarding and really made the whole season a little more joyful for our family.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The First Present of Christmas

There are a lot of Christmas traditions that I love, but there is one that definitely sticks out for me.  I don't remember when it started, but I know that it wasn't always a tradition for us.  Many people get pajamas to open on Christmas Eve, but I especially love this tradition because my mom makes them.

I always look forward to Christmas Eve night when we get to open our pajamas from my mom.  When I lived with my parents, we would get home from my Grandma's and just wait for Mom to give us our boxes.  I loved the anticipation.  My mom loves picking out the perfect fabric for each of us.  Sometimes we all have matching pajamas and sometimes they're different.  Sometimes they reflect a certain holiday or a special event from the past year.  And sometimes they're just cute.  The year Micah was born, my pajamas were made out of the same material that my mom had used to make his baby quilt.  Several years my pants haven't fit me.  One year they were HUGE--I think they could have fit two of me in them!  A couple times I've had to give mine to my sister because they were too small for me.  I have literally cried about that before because I so much look forward to my new pajamas.

I am so glad that I get to continue this tradition with my boys.  Even though we don't see my parents on Christmas Eve anymore, my mom gives us all our pajamas and when we get home from our Christmas Eve celebration we sit down and open them.  I love that we get a nice, new, warm pair of pajama pants to wear for Christmas morning.  And I'm learning how to make pajama pants myself (all of my boys got homemade Cars pajamas this year--not as good quality as my mom's, but I'm getting there!) so that they will grow up sharing in my favorite Christmas tradition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Advent Activity

Brad and I have been trying so hard to make this time of year special for our boys.  We have been filling our days with lots of fun activities and reading new books.  We are trying to start new traditions as well as continue old ones.  One new tradition that we have started this year is a different kind of advent calendar.  It's from the ebook Truth in the Tinsel.

The ebook goes through each day of advent.  For every day there is a Bible passage to read and a craft to make that goes along with the passage.  There is also an extension activity that you can do each day, but most of them are a little too old for Micah.  We haven't been completely faithful with the crafts because of busyness, but we have tried our best each day.  Micah has even begun asking for "Bible" because we read the passage from the Bible before making the craft. 

This has been a really great way for us to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and daily tell Micah the story of Jesus' birth.  In the midst of the craziness of the season it has been a good reminder for us to slow down and really focus on what is most important.  You should check out the website for more information.  Be sure to look for some coupon codes online too because there are several!

I haven't taken many picture of Micah making the crafts, but here's a few:

Making a sunshine because Jesus is the light of the world.
Making the stable.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Special Kind of Advent Calendar

I love this time of year.  I know it's kind of cliche, and, really, who doesn't like Christmas?  But I seriously love this time of year.  There is so much fun to be had.  So many projects to make.  So many treats to bake.  Beautiful things to see.  Love to spread.  I've always tried to make this time of year special for us, but even more so since having kids.  It's so fun to see Christmas through a child's eyes.  Every time we're driving at night and Micah sees houses lit up he is in awe and saws, "Doe priiity!"  It just reminds me to slow down and enjoy this time even more.

And I have so much fun planned for our family, but I think it's so easy to forget my husband sometimes.  We can get so caught up in making the season enjoyable for the kids that we forget about the adults.  I don't want Brad to get lost in the season.  I want him to know how much I love and appreciate him all the time.  So, I decided to make him his own advent calendar.  I got the idea from this post at one of my favorite blogs.  I used my extra paper from the advent calendar I made for the family and put together 24 little cards.  Sixteen of them have little notes of praise and gratitude for Brad, things I love about him.  Four cards have something I will do for him (such as bring him lunch at work or make his favorite meal) and four cards are dates we will go on.  On November 30th while he was at work, I strung some ribbon above our bed and hung the cards.  He was super surprised when he got home from work and saw it hanging there.  Micah, too, thought it was cool.  He keeps calling it "abcs."  Every morning Brad takes down his card and reads it.  It's such a fun way to show him how much I love and appreciate him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

7 months

When I look at Judah he is like a little boy now.  He is not the little baby that we brought home from the hospital.  I am seriously loving this time with him.  He's becoming so much more playful and has definite preferences.  I know you're not supposed to compare your children, but all month I've thought about where Micah was at this age.  It was easy to do because when Micah was this old we went on our vacation to the Outer Banks.  I remember a lot of what Micah was like then.  Some things we think there's no way Judah is ready for that!  And other things we feel like Judah has been doing forever.  I love seeing how different the two are, and I am so excited to see how that continues as they get older.  One thing I hope never changes is their love for each other.  Micah just loves on Judah all the time.  He's always very concerned about what Judah is doing and wants to include him in everything.  He definitely doesn't want Judah to interfere with his play, but he's perfectly happy giving Judah something to play with so they can play alongside of each other.  And lately, Micah has taken to asking to hold Judah's hand all the time.  It's the cutest thing ever.

But, back to Judah.  Here's what his seventh month looked like:

*Judah got his six month pictures taken and he was such a ham!  He is seriously going to take after his big brother because as soon as the camera comes out, he's got a smile on his face!

*At his six month doctor's appointment he weighed 9lbs 4oz and was 28 1/4 inches long.  He's a healthy little boy!

*Judah has started eating table food.  So far he's had bananas and mashed potatoes.  I don't think we're going to have a hard time getting this boy to eat real food! ;)

*He attended his first ever Thanksgiving Eve service at church and did great.

*He celebrated Thanksgiving at Boompa and Oma's house and on Saturday at Mimi's house.  He loved being with all of his cousins and playing.

*Judah is such a little roly poly!  He is really getting around.

*Everyone comments on what a happy baby Judah is, and he really is.  He rarely cries, even when Micah is poking him.  He is perfectly content to just sit in his jumper and watch everyone else (unless you leave the room--then he gets mad.)

*He's been sleeping better lately.  For a while we were even able to put him down awake and he would put himself to sleep, but he hasn't been doing that lately.  He typically takes two 2 hour naps, though.  And he goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until 7:30, waking only once or twice.  We're getting there!

Hanging out with Daddy at Mimi's house.

Big boy getting up on all fours.

Playing with some Christmas lights.

Blowing raspberries.  He loves doing this!