Many Christmases

This year Ben and I celebrated many Christmases. We had Christmas with our immediate families (2), Christmas with the extended families (4), Christmas with friends and a brunch with our church pals. The brunch was after the New Year so we had a bit of a break before that one.

The Friday before Christmas we got together with the DeRuischers to exchange gifts. Addison and Erin were more than happy to help everyone open their presents. 
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IMG_3529Erin got a paint book that has dried paint on the top of each page so it isn’t as messy yet still easy enough for her to do by herself.

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Addison’s pattern block setIMG_3534 IMG_3537James playing with his new toy.

Ben got some hang out time with James and they made lots of funny faces at the camera while the girls played with their new toys!
IMG_3540On Sunday we got together with Ben’s family for lunch after church. On Monday, Christmas Eve, we opened gifts with Ben’s family. This was the first year in awhile that we’ve all been together. This is a traditional picture taken in order of oldest to youngest.

IMG_3561 IMG_3563I made Bill and Alyssa a book with as many wedding pictures as I could fit (plus a few additional pages I bought because I couldn’t cut out more!).

On Christmas morning we got together once more to open our stockings. Then Ben and I made the long trek to my hometown to celebrate Christmas with my family. It was the first time Ben spent Christmas day with my family!

IMG_3564Later that day we celebrated Christmas with my family!
IMG_3565 IMG_3568Yup, we were quite spoiled by both families!
IMG_3569My parents got spoiled too!
IMG_3570Our lil’ peanut got a personalized gift complete with baby’s first ornament!
IMG_3574One of the gifts we bought my dad!
IMG_3575The aftermath.
IMG_3576Great-Grandma Margaret was mad about the mess we made and tried to get the boys to clean it up right away. Instead she got covered in wrapping paper.
IMG_3577My handsome brother and his beautiful bride-to-be.

I tend to ignore my camera, cell phone and computer during family times like this. I know I should take more pictures but I love not worrying about it and just enjoying the time spent with my family. We don’t get enough time together with three of the five siblings on Ben’s side of the family living out of state and us living 8 hours away from my family so every moment together was spent focusing on family – not technology! So that’s it for the pictures!

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Our Little Christmas

Ben and I had our own little Christmas. Ben brought home dinner from a local restaurant and after eating together we decided to have our Christmas. We opened a few gifts and enjoyed our evening together. We celebrated Christmas in a funny way this year. We opened one gift each week for three weeks! It was super fun. We were so impatient and pretty much exchanged gifts shortly after they were bought. We opened the last few gifts two days before Christmas Eve – the last night we had to ourselves before the craziness of Christmas began.

This was the aftermath!

IMG_3504And here are the goodies! This is what we exchanged over three weeks.
IMG_3505I gave Ben enough X-box points to get the expansion pack to one of his favorite games, Skyrim, his second brand new video game, Assassins Creed and a beer ornament. Baby gave daddy a Star Wars ABC book for them to read together. Ben gave me a Willow Tree pregnancy figure, a glass water bottle (that was the one gift I requested!), Fun. Some Nights CD and a pregnancy ornament.

Every year since we started dating in 2006 we have exchanged ornaments. We typically buy an ornament that represents the past year. Past ornaments include Mickey Mouse because I called Ben mouse before we started dating, a lime green lobster because I tried seafood for the first time, a tomato because we started our first little garden of three tomato plants and a teacher ornament the year I graduated college.

These are the ornaments that were exchanged this year.

IMG_3507We write the year and the reason for giving the ornament on the back of the ornament. The bottom of Ben’s ornament says Ben’s Brewery and represents Ben’s year of brewing multiple batches of beer and teaching numerous other people how to brew. My ornament has the year on the back and on the purse it says Best Present Ever.

We will continue this tradition with our children and buy them an ornament that reflects our past year together.

Ben came up with some pretty unique gift tags this year! I loved what he wrote!

IMG_3509 - Copy (2)I am part of a Facebook group with a group of women who are all due in April. A lot of abbreviations are used and DH is one of the most common ones. DH stands for Dear Husband. Ben picked up on this and used the abbreviation on a present. Totally made my day!

Ben has made me breakfast in bed before so I returned the favor the next morning and made him breakfast in bed. I attempted to make a few fun pancakes and while my talents aren’t up to par with Ben’s – at least you can tell what I attempted to make!
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A heart, baby and ornament.. haha I tried! I will keep practicing!

That was how we spent our little Christmas together with our growing family! I can’t wait to see what our Christmas looks like together next year!

Evolution of a Christmas Tree

 

For the last two years we have picked out and bought a real Christmas tree from a local grocery store. This year because Ben is pals with the workers they give us $5 off our Christmas tree. Ben picked it out last year and I picked out the Christmas tree this year – it was a little on the big side.

Step 1: Clear out a space for your gigantic tree and get the tr
ee stand ready.IMG_3401Step 2: Get the tree off the car top. 
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Step 3: Bring the tree inside with supervision from your brother-in-law and wife. 
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IMG_3407Step 4: Put the tree in the tree stand.

IMG_3409Step 5: Make sure you have enough lights to fill the entire tree.
IMG_3425Step 6: Run to Meijer and pick up more lights.

Step 7: Get out the box of ornaments and start decorating!
IMG_3432Ben was so excited that have bought and wrapped my presents early this year. He stuck this one for me under the tree before we even finished decorating the tree.
IMG_3435Ben working hard to find the perfect home for all the ornaments.
IMG_3436My belly came in handy this year as I opened up presents on it and straightened tissue paper using the bump.
IMG_3440Ben took lots of pictures of me and baby decorating the tree.
IMG_3444Da bump!
IMG_3445Our tree!!! I was absolutely in love with our tree this year!
IMG_3449Blurry picture of our tree with some presents under it.
IMG_3498Before I separated and packed up our gifts for the various Christmas parties we attended I took a few pictures to show all the goodies under our trI wrapped the presents for GR folks in this wrapping paper.

IMG_3501And Menominee folks got the blue wrapping paper.
IMG_3502By Christmas Eve our tree was looking quite bare again.
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Our presents will sit under the tree for a few days so we can show my family what we received and then all our new gifts will find a home in our home!
I think decorating our Christmas tree is just as exciting as opening up gifts with our family! For Ben and I it was the first time I really felt like Ben and I were our own little family.

November

A quick look at our November (so I can get caught up on where we are “real” time by the start of 2013!). Let’s do this…

At the beginning of November baby voted. Well I voted but baby came and hung out with me!

baby votedBen and I spent an entire Saturday at BabiesRUs registering for goodies for Baby H.
IMG_3242Ben brewed beer with a pal from church.
IMG_3248I went with my in-laws and brother in law to Ohio to watch my dear, sister-in-law run in Nationals. My cousin who lives in Ohio came too to support her and visit!
IMG_3297I spent  A LOT of time in November sewing… for baby! (and watched Seasons 1-5 of Grey’s Anatomy).
IMG_3306I made wash cloths and burp cloths.
IMG_3316And started my stock pile of homemade wipes.
IMG_3315I made a little upgrade in our bathroom by replacing our Bath and Body Works soap with a new dispenser and whipping up my own soap solution with Bronner’s and water.
IMG_3324I got a baby shower invitation… to my own shower! This invitation is created by my mom.
IMG_3327Ben took me on a belated birthday date and we spent an afternoon painting pottery.
IMG_3338 IMG_3345We began work in the nursery, but have a long way to go!
IMG_3350On Thanksgiving the tradition continued with all the kids piling on one another.. and on my poor mother-in-law.
IMG_3379And then the pile shifted and my brother-in-law as the bottom.
IMG_3385Our Thanksgiving Feast!
IMG_3386Towards the end of November I got a second baby shower invitation for my shower thrown by my mother-in-law and sisters. Apparently my moms had the same idea! I love it!
IMG_3387That was November.. in a nut shell. We didn’t do too much actually. Spent a lot of time preparing for the Holidays and a lot of time working. But December… so much fun was had! Stay tuned!

Fall

As I am beginning to think about watching Christmas movies, drinking Peppermint tea, wrapping presents, baking chocolate goodies and those beautiful twinkling lights, I’ve realized I never posted photos of the Fall decorations in our home. Let’s change that!

Welcome

 My toilet paper pumpkin from Noah, spider web basket and mini pumpkins.
More fall goodies including my homemade pipe cleaner spider.
I can’t remember where/when I got these leaves but they are my favorite fall decorations!
My new fall decoration. This one totally fell into my cart when I was at a Michael’s. All I needed to do was throw in a candle!
Fall could be found throughout our apartment, including the bathroom.
And lastly, a bit of fall in our bedroom.
What is fall without pumpkin carving?
The Saturday before Halloween we headed to Kalamazoo to carve pumpkins with Justin and Tia.
Justin had a bit more fun than the rest of us!
His pumpkin was done first so photographer Justin got behind the camera.
Our beautiful pumpkins!

Ben’s pirate
Justin’s woman
Tia’s Western Michigan University pumpkin
My cat

(the carving knife broke during the smile.. haha)
Our pumpkins chilling at home!

Weekend Home

I was going through pictures and realized that I didn’t write about our weekend to visit my hometown! I shared some photos from our weekend in the Upper Peninsula here and here. But more fun was had that weekend!

Ben and I were able to get a Friday off at the end of September. We got up super early and go on the road before the sun came up. Even after stopping for lunch at Pizza Hut we arrived over an hour before my mom would get home from work.. which was our plan! We had a secret mission to complete before my parents got home from work.

The secret mission was super intense for us. We had to use our ninja abilities and park behind the Fire Station where my dad works. We went around the back and were hoping and praying that no one saw us. Ben, very cool and calm, grabbed the GPS and our homemade geocache/baby announcement and headed behind the Fire Station to hid the geocache.

Ben was right next to my dad’s truck and I was so afraid a firefighter would have looked out and came out to see what was going on. Thankfully no one did!! Our hearts were racing as Ben quickly found spot to plant the geocache.


Geocache planted…. Then Ben had to program the coordinates of the geocache in the GPS so my family could find it. This was done in a matter of minutes and we were back in the Escape heading to my house. On the way my mom called and said she was running late and asked us to pick up my cousin Noah from school. Lucky Dog came with us on an adventure to get Noah from Middle School.

Such a pretty girl!!! After we picked up Noah we got home and my mom had arrived from school. We then spent some time decorating a birthday cake for me and one for my mom. Our birthdays were still a few weeks away but we wanted to celebrate them together!
After practicing some designs and testing out the frosting Noah, Ben and I got to work! Ben perfected his frosting flowers and Noah worked on writing messages with the frosting. And we all may have walked away with green tongues… just maybe..
My finished birthday cake. Noah also decorated one for my mom, a chocolate cake! Then around five Ben and I talked Noah and my mom into coming with to get my dad from work (who had taken off a few hours to spend with us) and to check out this geocache right behind the Fire Station! (I don’t think they had a clue what they were about to discover!)
We got to the Fire Station and hung out a bit outside checking out the Apple trees, garden and tasting some grapes. Below is a photo of the sour grape I ate.
Then we went geocaching and this priceless moment happened… still brings the biggest smile to my face!
Much of the weekend was spent visiting family and friends and sharing our baby news but we also celebrated our birthdays!
Looking at this photo there is no denying that I am my mother’s daughter! At the bottom of the picture above you can see the remains of our Thanksgiving dinner. Yup, we celebrated Thanksgiving in September so we could celebrate it as a family! A special shout out to my parents for doing that for us! It meant a lot to celebrate my birthday and Thanksgiving together!
My cousin Mikayla came to hang out on Friday evening and joined us for our celebrations!
I got a new luggage set since my old one broke. I love the blue luggage and the various sizes/shapes.
We got my mom some Sierra Mist and chocolate! The above pictures were all from Friday and like I mentioned the rest of the weekend involved trips to share our baby news with our family and friends, a trip to our favorite Sub Shop, a family 5K, and a surprise anniversary party for my pseudo-Aunt and Uncle! This time together with my family was precious and I’m so thankful for being able to tell so many people in person about our little miracle!

Independence Day Picnic

Our week long vacation at the beginning of July started in Hart, MI at the cottage that Ben’s family rents every year. I was truly on vacation and didn’t use my camera at all. It was nice to just enjoy my time there and not focus on taking photos. 

Then on July 4th Ben and I came home, unpacked, did laundry, repacked for the 2nd part of our vacation and then headed to East Grand Rapids to watch the fireworks. 

Our little picnic area! It was a HOT HOT day and we didn’t enjoy ourselves as much as we hoped (not for lack of trying!)

Super HOT but still sporting the red, white and blue!

We bought special drinks for our vacation! Ben’s was Arnold Palmer’s. 

We played some games to help pass the time and to take our mind off of the heat!

Happy 4th of July! 
Our 2nd in Grand Rapids!

Beautiful Fireworks!
Thank you East GR!

Next.. a super lost post (maybe posts) about our FANTASTIC trip to Marquette!