Monday, December 29, 2014


Christmas was a whole new experience for us this year since we are away from family for the first time.  We had a great time and really enjoyed the whole season.
Here is Ivan on Dec 3.  He looks so tiny.  There is no way we could have squished him into a stocking on Christmas.  He's grown a lot chunkier throughout the month, but unlike the rest of us, we love to see him pack on the pounds.  
Making a gingerbread was a first for me this year.  We made our gingerbread house last week for family night.  We kinda cheated and used hot glue to fit the house together.  I figure, the gingerbread is stale and inedible by the time you take it apart, so why not.  Ellie and Christian had so much fun decorating the house.  
I had two great helpers to assist with the present wrapping.  They loved putting the tape on the presents.  They were so excited to give their gifts to their dad.  I am surprised they kept the gifts a secret until Christmas morning.
On the night of Christmas Eve we did the traditional nativity play.  Christian was a shepherd complete with white teddy bear sheep, thanks to Ellie's careful planning.  We saved a wrapping paper roll  to use as a shepherd's crook.  This is not such a good idea for a two year old shepherd.  As you can see from the picture,  he used it to keep from getting his picture taken.  In addition to the great tool it was to obstruct photo ops, it was also a great tool to use to annoy his sister.  I think it is pretty clear that we did not have a very reverent nativity play thanks to this mischievous shepherd.   
Our baby Jesus was obviously Ivan
And here is Ellie as a wise man.  Ellie was very serious about putting on the nativity play.  She planned her costume a day in advance, and also decided who would play what part.  She had a hard time deciding between angel and wise man for her own part.  In the end, she decided on wise man since she couldn't figure out the wings for her angel costume.  She did a great job.  
All Ellie said that she wanted for Christmas was a pony toy, a toothbrush, and a pony shirt.  Well, Santa delivered.  Here she is sporting her Fluttershy pony shirt.  All Christian said he wanted for Christmas was a truck.  So Santa got him a nice sturdy Tonka dump truck.  
It was Ellie's idea to have shepherd's pie for Christmas dinner.  She decided this way back at the beginning of December and has been reminding us of it all month.  "Shepherd's pie, you know, like the shepherds who went to the manger way," she would say.  For as excited as she was for this dinner, she didn't seem too excited to actually eat it.  
The whole family on Christmas night.  
Cutest little Santa you could ask for.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We Love Janel!

We knew way back in June that Brad was going to have to go to a conference pretty close to our baby's due date.  We were happy to have my sister, Janel, offer to come and help out while Brad was out of town 3 weeks after Ivan's birth.  I  was so grateful to have Janel here to occupy Ellie and Christian while I spent so much time tending to Ivan and catching up on sleep.

  It was just nice to have someone in the house with me 24/7.  I don't know if my temper would have survived the week-long conference without her here, as it seems that  my temper is the first thing to flare up when I am lacking sleep.  While she was here, we didn't really do much more than just hang out around the house.  The one time we left the house with the whole gang, we took an outing to the carousel museum in Albany.  Albany has been working on on a hand carved carousel for about 10 years.  They have a museum (really a workshop) where you can go and watch volunteers from the community carve animals and paint pieces of the carousel structure.  It was really fun to go and see.  If I didn't have 3 kids to take care of and needed something to occupy my time, volunteering in this capacity would be right up my alley.  I was really impressed with the work of the wood carvers.  For the most part, none of them have past experience in carving, they are all just willing to offer their time and are willing to learn as they go.  The carousel should be complete in about 4 more years.  If we're not here, we might just have to take a trip back to see the finished product.
We are so grateful for Janel.  She gave up a week of vacation time to come help out and keep us company.  What pales in comparison to her help last week are the countless hours she spent the past 4 years taking care of Ellie and Christian on weekly basis while I worked to support our family.  She has built such a great relationship with my children, and I am so grateful for that.  I sure am glad to have a sister.  Sister's rock!  Thank you Janel.