Sunday, December 27, 2009

Its a Wonderful Life

Sometimes when all of the Christmas festivities are over, and I'm left with a long stretch of winter ahead, I sink into a little bit of a post-Christmas funk. While I loved everything about Christmas, I'm ready to move on. We have so much to look forward to in the upcoming year that I can't help but feel excited about moving forward. How can I feel dreary when I get to be with my three favorite boys each day? As I reflect on 2009, and the new year approaching, I feel so grateful for my greatest blessings, my sweet little family.

Christmas 2009

Hank woke up at 7:30 a.m. on Christmas morning and the frenzy to unwrap presents began!

Hank got lots of cool trucks, a toy laptop, a tent with a tube, and a Zippity game. Of all of the nice presents Hank received, his favorite is a little fire station toy that was given to Max, that Hank has now taken over as his own.

Max really had no idea what was going on and was just happy to be a part of all of the fun. Max's favorite present was a new toothbrush.

Nana Grover was excited about her new straightener:)

Aaron got a new jacket and a DVD player. I think its fair to say that everyone was spoiled rotten. Thank you Santa Claus!

Christmas Eve

Since this was the first Christmas that we've spent at our own house, Aaron and I had to make some major compromises to blend both of our family traditions. I think we were able to enjoy the best of both worlds...
For Christmas Eve dinner, we enjoyed a feast that would rival Thanksgiving, made up entirely of appetizers, cheeses, chips and dips, and all kinds of tasty snacks.

Afterwards, we sang Christmas songs, read a few stories, ending with the Bible story, and put the kiddos to bed in their brandnew jammies. Hank was so excited about all of the festivities that I'm surprised he was able to sleep at all.

The Grover Bakery

Ever since I was a little girl, one of my favorite Christmas traditions has always been to bake (and EAT!) bunches and bunches of cookies and treats and then deliver the goodies to our friends and neighbors. This year, Hank and I made over 34 dozen cookies! Phew! It was a lot of work! I hate to say it, but even I am feeling a little O.D.'ed on chocolate--and thats saying something.
Some of our favorites were the peanut butter truffles, russian teacakes (Aaron's request), peanut butter blossoms, chocolate crinkles, pretzel turtles, toffee bars, and 7 layer bars.

I thought the final product was delicious. Max was happy to be our official cookie tester.

As we were out delivering all of our yummy treats, Hank randomly asked if we could take a plate of treats to the firemen in our town. I was so happy that Hank was demonstrating the true Christmas spirit of giving, that I took him to the firestation in the morning and he hand-delivered the treats to the firemen. The firemen were so sweet to Hank and shook his hand and thanked him for the treats.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Day to Remember

As a tradition, each year we take the kids to the mall to visit Santa Claus and have their picture taken. This year, we stepped up our game. Big time. Hank, Max, my wonderful mother-in-law-"Nana Grover," and I, rode the light rail from Tukwila to Seattle to see The Real Santa at Nordstrom's.
If you know one thing about Hank, you know that he is positively obsessed with trains. He loves them. It would be an understatement to say that Hank was in heaven. He was so alert and attentive, watching out his window, completely fascinated during the entire ride.

If you know two things about Hank, you know that he is a man with a one-tracked mind. The big climax of our train-ride was supposed to be our visit to see Santa Claus. However, from the moment we stepped off the train, Hank was only interested in turning around and boarding the train again. When we discovered that there was a 4 hour wait to see Santa (seriously?!), I was worried that Hank would be really disappointed. He took one look at the Santa in the window, decided that he didn't like that Santa because, "he doesn't have a mouth" (I guess Hank wasn't fooled by Santa's very fake-looking beard) and was ready to head home. We actually tried to talk him into riding the Carousel or stop to listen to a street band, but Hank wanted none of it. So, we gave in and took the train back again!

Max was a delight. He loves to people watch and was just happy to be along for the ride. I think Max's favorite part of the day was when we picked up some yummy fresh donuts to eat on the way home.
We couldn't break our tradition--so we stopped at Southcenter to get a picture with Santa. Hank liked this Santa much better. Max, on the other hand, was absolutely terrified! Poor boy! We had such a fun day. I'm beat, but it was completely worth it because I know Hank will remember his first train ride and our visit to see Santa for a long time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mommy/Son Date

Last night I took Hank on a date, just the two of us. Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle of our daily routine, I'm not able to take the time that I would like to just give Hank my undivided attention. So, last night we just hung out together! I thoroughly enjoyed his company. First, we went to the toy store and Hank got to buy a Christmas present for Max. I had to explain to Hank that the present was not for him, it was to give to Max, so he should pick out something that Max might like. Hank had a hard time passing up the dinosaurs and trucks (toys that he would like himself), but in the end, he deciced to buy Max a corn-popper toy that I know Max will love! I was proud of him for choosing something that Max would like all by himself. I wanted Hank to understand, in a small way, what it feels like to give, since I know he will be spoiled rotten on Christmas Day. Afterwards, we stopped at Baskin Robbins for an icecream treat. Hank was in heaven with all the delicious ice-cream choices. I held him up to the counter and told him what each flavor was and let him sample a few. In the end, he chose a chocolate milkshake with Mike 'n Ikes on top, a popular combination I'm sure. Thanks for the fun date, Hank!

Monday, December 14, 2009


So, next year I vow to get all of the prep-work done while the kids are in bed and then do the fun part, putting up the ornaments, together the next day. We tried to decorate the tree on Sunday but by the time we hauled the tree in the house, messed around with the base until it was sturdy and straight, wrapped it in lights, and then covered it in garland, we were definately not feeling too merry. So, we called it a night and picked back up where we left off for FHE tonight and got to do the fun part--the ornaments.

We let Hank pick out each ornament and put it wherever he wanted to on the tree (notice his placement of the balls--all lined up!). Hank had fun decorating the tree and I think it looks perfect! (Note: Hank is in intensive potty-training mode...hence the no pants)

Joyschool Christmas Program

Tonight was Hank's Joyschool Christmas Program. The kids have been working really hard all month long to learn songs and practice their parts for the nativity program. Unfortunately, our rascally three-year-olds get distracted easily and the performance turned into more of a wrestling match, but, nonetheless, it was definately a cute little performance that I will remember forever.
I pretty much did a solo on our opening song--the kids sang about every fifth word while I did all the hand motions like a crazy person.

Hank was a great wiseman, wearing a fine crown (tin foil) and carrying a present for the baby Jesus.

The kids all loved the "In a Little Stable" and "Jingle Bell" songs where they got to shake bells. I feel so lucky that Hank gets to go to preschool with his best friends and be taught by such a wonderful group of mothers who love each child and share their testimonies through their lessons each week.

Red Barn Tree Farm

Hank has been talking about riding the choo-choo train at the Red Barn Tree Farm since we went there last year. So, it was a pretty big deal to Hank on Saturday when we got to go to the Red Barn Tree Farm again to ride the choo-choo train and cut down our Christmas Tree.
To beat the crowds, we hit the tree farm early. It was FREE-E-EZING cold outside!

Hank and Max waited for the choo-choo train on the little docking station.

Hank likes to ride on the back of the train, in the caboose.

To make the trip even more fun, Nana and Papa Grover came with us!

I think Max was too cold to get very excited. I thought he might like playing with the little trees his size, but he just poked one branch with his chubby little finger and didn't seem so impressed.

Hank, on the other hand, got right in on the action and helped Aaron cut down our chosen tree.

Here she is! The perfect Christmas Tree. Our hunt for our tree was kind of comical. We started off tromping through the farm with our standards set pretty high--rejecting tree after tree if it was too short, too full, had bald spots, looked crooked, or looked dry. After five minutes of hiking through the farm in the frigid cold, we lowered our expectations a little and chopped down the closest one we could find. I think out tree is just right:)

Max finally cheered up a little when we got back in our car, cranked up the heat, and let him go to town on a candy cane.

Christmas Camp-out

Our family has been trying to invite the Christmas spirit by doing one Christmas activity together each night of the month. A few of the fun things we've done together so far: deck the house with Christmas decorations, sing Christmas carols, drive around to see Christmas lights, bake treats, drink hot chocolate, and read Christmas books. One of our favorite activities so far was when we had a slumber party together on Friday night. We blew up the air mattress, snuggled up in our jammies with our pillows and blankets, and watched Christmas movies together. Hank loved it!
We still have so many fun things left to do on the list: family service project, visit Santa Claus, deliver Christmas goodies, and the soup party!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Last weekend we made the seven-hour drive to my parents' house in Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with my mom and dad, my sister Amy, and her baby, Jasper.
I was a little nervous about how the kids would fare on the long road trip, so I packed a few tricks up my sleeve: movies, treats, and surprises from the dollar store to keep the boys busy. They did great! They both watched a movie, Max took a long nap, and Hank really enjoyed watching and commenting about all the scenery (particularly every tractor, train, or emergency vehicle we passed along the way). The road trip was actually one of my favorite parts of the entire vacation because we really just got to be together and enjoy each others' company.

We spent Thursday morning cooking/baking up a storm. I always look forward to visiting my parents because my mom can make a mean dinner.

Aaron's mouth was watering and the sight of our feast.

As a tradition, each year, when the boys are finished glutting themselves and are recovering in front of a football game, all the girls get together to work on a craft. This year we made yummy French Pear Sauce and decorated the little jars for Christmas gifts.

So cute!

On Friday, my mom took Amy, Jasper, and I bazaar-ing and then we went out to lunch at a little bakery in Umpqua.

That afternoon, we went to the Wildlife Safari, this cool place near my parents' house where you basically drive through a zoo, except that all the animals are in a natural habitat and can literally come inches from your window. We all loved it.

I really had fun getting to spend a little time with my nephew, Jasper. I feel a little warm spot for that cute little guy.

Handsome cousins!

When we finally made it home, we were worried that we'd never be able to get Hank to go to bed because he'd been too busy playing all week and had successfully boycotted naptime entirely at Grandma's house. I guess Hank must have worn himself out with all his playing, because as soon as we got home, he just melted.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Silly Me

I don't know what I was thinking. I had this crazy idea that we could all be have our picture taken together as a family. I even fantasized that we could use this hypothetical picture for an upcoming Christmas card. Hahaha. Silly me. Us? A family picture? You mean everyone looking at the same place all at once? Ha!
This is the best we got. Out of the literally 100s of pictures we took, this is it. So, here are a few of the rejects that you won't be seeing in the Christmas card. Actually, these probably show a more true sense of our family than any picture-perfect posed photo anyways...