Tis’ the season!

Here are some of our pictures from all the Christmas fun so far.  We had a wonderful time with my family here in Chicago, and our annual trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo lights to see Santa. I would love to blog about all we’ve done and how much fun it has been, but it’s time to get busy baking, finish up some wrapping and final cleaning to be ready for our First Christmas home ever!!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and feel the Lord’s presence in your life as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

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God is everywhere!

The whole family went grocery shopping on Saturday morning and our normal, crazy chore for us turned into a great lesson for the kids, and Chris and I.

Chris and I always divide and conquer the grocery store.  We each take a child (or two) and split the list and get busy shopping.  While we were shopping, there was another gentleman out, filling his cart with goodies for the holiday, but he had something very special he was doing along the way.  He was handing out 26 acts of kindness in remembrance of those who lost their lives in Newtown, CT.  Can you believe Chris and I were both on the receiving end of this wonderful act?  It gave us a chance to briefly chat with the kids that God has given this man a heart of giving.  We did not go into detail as to what happened in Newtown, as we have been fortunate enough to avoid the news and conversations around it when the kids were present.

It’s never easy running errands with three kids in the city, let alone a grocery trip, however Chris and I were very moved by this act and plan to pay it forward.  It was a beautiful reminder from God to enjoy every minute with our children, even if it is frustrating to grocery shop with them.  We will be forever grateful for the children that God has blessed us with and will continue to keep those in Newtown in our prayers and our hearts this Christmas.

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Our baby boy is 6 months old!

Where has the time gone?  That’s a phrase I’ve said WAY too much lately, however, I’m afraid as my kids get older it’s going to be one I think daily.  We have been enjoying all the new things Garrett has learned over the last couple of weeks and frankly are a bit shocked at how quickly this little man is developing.  But then again, I’ve always said that he would be my “go-getter” considering his very quick delivery at birth.

On December 4th, at 5 1/2 months, this boy started getting up on all fours to crawl.  He would wobble back and forth until his arms and legs would collapse underneath him.  Although he didn’t have the crawling down yet, you could see the determination in his eyes that if he wanted something he was going to get it…he would log roll across the floor and twist and turn until he got there.  I just knew at that point he would be crawling before Christmas.  Well he is, but it’s the infamous army crawl.

Garrett still hasn’t officially become a sitter considering that once he is sitting up, he just dives forward onto his tummy, which is his favorite place right now.  I have not seen a child who loves tummy time and playing on his tummy like Garrett.  He is just so active and my first child (of the 3) who has taken “baby-proofing” to a whole new level.

He is now eating his first solid foods.  So far he’s had rice, oatmeal, applesauce, peas, and zucchini.  I’ve been making his baby food so far, but I can tell you, it won’t be for much longer as the time commitment has been difficult, but as always, I just do my best.  He loves to spit and do raspberries which is so much fun when he’s eating! HA!

Our Dr. told us at Garrett’s 6 month appointment that it is possible he’ll be walking by 9 months.  She could not believe how active he was and all the things he could already do.  Looks like things are only going to get busier for us.  He weighed 15lbs 2oz and was 26 3/4in long.  He’s in the 10th percentile for weight and 50th for height (not sure where he gets that!).

Most people dread the winter months of Jan/Feb, but I’m actually looking forward to them.  A chance to slow down after the last two busy months and enjoy my babies!

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Bedtime Conversation

Parker and Ryann share a bedroom and almost every night spend 15 minutes to an hour talking. Yes, we listen in over the monitor choosing when to really pay attention.   Their conversations are sometimes loud, obnoxious and out-of-control, other times they are sweet and absolutely heart-melting. Tonight’s discussion was all of the above and ended with Chris and I dying in laughter (if they only knew):

Parker: God and Jesus are the same person.
Ryann: Ooohhhhh!
Parker: Jesus lived over 2000 years ago.
Ryann: Cool!
Parker: Our souls never die…they live for 100, 2000 years.
Ryann: Yeah, and Dinosaurs are going to eat our beds!

Our advent calendar!

This past month I have been very proactive with things concerning Christmas…I wanted it to be a relaxing time of year where we are able to sit back, enjoy this time together and reflect on why we celebrate this special day.  For the first time in 10 years, since we have lived in Chicago, we will be staying home for Christmas.  That alone makes this year feel so much more special already…the stress of packing and figuring out how to get gifts to where we are staying, along with the traveling piece is enough to create so much anxiety for a Mom (and Dad, too) that I’ve always seemed to lose focus on the importance of the holiday.  I am thrilled to be hosting my family this coming weekend and Chris’ family will arrive after Christmas.  I have already been meal planning!  I’m going to attempt some of my Grandma’s favorite Christmas snacks (both Shike & McKeown)…so we will see if I’m able to carry on the traditions!

The day after Thanksgiving Parker started asking “When’s Christmas?”.  I realized it was time for an advent calendar so he could have a visual of the count down and could stop asking every day if tomorrow was Christmas.  In years past I’ve heard all these great ideas other Mom’s do to involve their kids in Christmas activities daily, but I never felt I could keep up with it so why put in the effort.  Plus in the past we’ve always left home for Christmas so I thought to myself, why start something I can’t finish.  Just an excuse, I guess, to not want to try something new and fail.  Silly, really!  So, this year I took a completely different approach.  My Mom found me the perfect advent calendar…it has small pockets I can put a note in if I’d like, otherwise we just move a heart from one day to the next.  Quite simple, which is EXACTLY what I needed.  Prior to Dec 1st, I came up with 25 different things we could do each day until Christmas.  Well, by the 3rd, I’d already missed a day and quickly decided to give myself some grace and do what I could! Good thing I did considering I had to take 3 days off to potty train my daughter.  Hadn’t planned on that one, but what a wonderful Christmas wish to Chris and I…only one in diapers for Christmas?  Yes, please!   The things we have done together have been great and the conversations around what Christmas is all about have humbled me and made me laugh!  I’m just grateful for the quality time I’ve had with all my children during these activities!

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Our Advent Calendar

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Parkertree Ryanntree

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An excellent site I have borrowed a few ideas from is Lil Light O’ Mine.  This site provides numerous ways to involve kids in lighting up the lives of others!

Crockpot dinners!

As a mom of 3, getting dinner on the table is a huge chore.  I find myself doing well if I’ve planned my menu and grocery shopped at the beginning of the week.  It’s SO much easier to know what’s for dinner when I wake up that morning.  I know that sounds a bit crazy, but for breakfast and lunch, I have no problem…it’s that 4-5 o’clock peak that is rough for me.  If I don’t have something lined up or started by then, dinner is the old fashioned sandwich or hot dog, for everyone!  These dinners were on last week’s menu and were great, plus they took the least amount of time!  I hope they can help you one night or two! Just click on the title and it will direct you to the blog in which I borrowed the recipe!

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Tacos

Crockpot Honey Apple Pork Loin (The kids LOVED this!)

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My little helpers!

My little helpers!

THE Christmas tree!

I couldn’t have been more excited to get our Christmas tree this year.  We live in a new place, one in which has a perfect spot for the tree…a big one (compared to the tiny ones we’ve had in our condo years past).  Getting a REAL tree is important to me; it was a tradition for me growing up, one I will NEVER give up!  When this time rolls around Chris gets a little apprehensive.  He doesn’t like the hassle with getting it in the house, the needles all over, having to remember to water it, and not to mention the cost of a tree in Chicago and the ridiculous process of disposing it here too.  Grabbing a tree from a random parking lot is definitely not like I remember growing up, but hey, the smell of the tree in my house during that month is what brings back the memories.  We used to have a lot of trees right out our door at our old condo, but this year we had to make the trip out to get one.  We contemplated getting one from Home Depot as we’ve heard they were cheaper there…the day we were getting the tree I was told Costco was the place to go…so there we went!

I may have the most beautiful 8 foot tree I’ve ever had, and yes, we did get it out of the back of a semi-truck in the parking lot of Costco…however all parties in this family are happy…I have a huge pretty tree and it only cost us $27!  That was a steal!

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Our kids running through a parking lot next to a semi-truck full of trees…not what I remember growing up, but can you imagine what they will think when they actually get to visit a Christmas tree farm one day?!

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