Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christopher is Five today!

It's Christopher's birthday ~ he is five years old today! I talked to him on the phone just a little bit ago and he seems real excited about his party this afternoon. I wish I could be there for it. Would you like to see just a few pictures of Christopher we took throughout this year?
At the pumpkin patch in New Mexico (October 2008)
I LOVE this picture of him holding his pumpkin ...
I could kiss his little face forever!

At White Sand's New Mexico (March 2008)

At the El Paso Zoo (March 2008)
Isn't Christopher a darling?
Playing with his dad's (and uncles)
Matchbox cars (July 2008) at Grandma Jones's
Talking to a sea lion at the El Paso Zoo (March 2008)
Chris was SO amazed by this animal!

Enjoying playdough (October 2008)

This is so typical of Christopher!
At a playground not far from White Sand's New Mexico
(March 2008)
Trying NOT to smell the animals
at Krupp Farms petting zoo (July 2008)
July 2008 ... love his smile and his
beautiful eyes ...
One of my favorite pictures ever of Chris ...
at Fort Apache, Indian Cliffs Ranch
(October 2008)
I love his little face so much ...

Our birthday box for Christopher arrived on time! We sent him a very cool Speed Racer vehicle that launches a car, along with a whole package of Speed Racer stuff like a pair of binoculars, a walkie-talkie and a flashlight. We hope you like your presents, dear grandson. We love you very much!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our happy yesterday at Ruthanne's

Our internet has been up and down (but mostly down) all morning and I am just about on my last nerve with it! I'm hoping to sneak in a few pictures of our Thanksgiving Day yesterday before it zones out on me again.
After a clear and smooth ride from Grand Rapids, we arrived at about 11:15. It was SO good to see everyone! I haven't seen my niece, Shari, in over three years ... not since Shelley's Matthew was two weeks old.
Esme' Arabella was definitely the STAR of the day. She was passed around, cuddled, stared at, fussed over and downright admired every single minute!

It was wonderful to visit with Shelley, Bob and Matthew ... even though they could not stay for dinner! Here they are putting together a neat foam pirate ship, complete with pirates and accessories, that will float nicely in the bathtub. Shelley put it together once, Matthew took it all apart, and then promptly re-assembled it all on his own.
Did you know that Shelley is an illustrator? She is more than that, obviously, but one thing for sure ~ she is a marvelous artist. This is one of the books she has illustrated ... see her name on the cover? I'm going to have to get myself a copy of this book, and all of the others she has done.
Grandpa Jones was really really happy to hold and dote on baby Esme' ... most of the day! You know how he is with babies.
Ruthanne cooked up an amazingly delicious meal. We all ate too much! It was so nice to sit around the table and enjoy good conversation and wonderful food.
Mark and Shari (& Esme'!) have recently moved to Knoxville,Tennessee because of a job change for Mark. He is loving his new job. I'm so glad for them. It's about an 8-hour drive from Detroit instead of the 13-hour drive they used to take from N. Carolina ... so that's at least an improvement!
Shari gets to be a stay-at-home mom and is really thankful for that. This is the first holiday season in a really really long time that she hasn't had to work.
Here is Mr. Jones, the expert baby handler, showing all of us how to position a baby who is a little bit tired or fussy or gassy. Esme' seemed to enjoy this point of view very much. Like I said, Mr. Jones has a way with babies.
I got to hold Esme' too! She was pretty tuckered out by then and slept sweetly on my lap.
Nana and Roy enjoyed the day with us very much. Aren't they a nice looking couple? And Roy is really the nicest person you could ever want to meet. I just love spending time with him.
I always love coming to Ruthanne and Terry's house. I have many good memories here, and I just love them both so much. It's wonderful to see them with their grandchildren.
Shelley, Bob and Matthew had to leave before lunch, and I neglected taking very many pictures of them (which I regret). There was just so much going on at the same time! Shelley is due for baby #2 practically any second! We are praying for a safe delivery of another precious one ... which I kind of hoped would have been born just a tiny bit early so that we could meet her/him; but it wasn't to be!

So ... four weeks from yesterday is Christmas. I've only baked one batch of cookies so far! I finished assembling my Christmas cards, but I still have 50 to address! We have to drag out all of the decorations from underneath the basement stairs and get them up. And I have about a million lists to make, and gifts to purchase ... SO ... I'd best get started!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving thanks ...

by Darlene Zschech

Thank you for the cross, Lord
Thank you for the price you paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love you came
And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love, Lord
Thank you for the nail-pierced hands
Washed me in your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown you now with many crowns
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The darling of heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
We sang this song at the close of our worship service Sunday morning. I love the words and the music and just wanted to pass them along! Mr. Jones and I, along with Dylan, Nana and Cookie, are driving to Detroit tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with Ruthanne and Terry. Shelley, Bob and Matthew as well as Shari, Mark and baby Esme' are going to be there for awhile so that we can visit with them and meet baby Esme', but then they have to leave and go to in-law Thanksgiving dinners. I'm looking forward to our time in Detroit very much.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our dear family who live in Minnesota and Texas ... so far away, but near to our hearts. Hope you all have a great day of giving thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What we did today ...

I didn't think I took that many pictures today ... but it turns out I did! I'm SO thankful for digital photography ~ otherwise, I would be BROKE! Nathan and Nia came over to play today and we had so much fun.
Nathan just turned three at the beginning of October, and he really really likes to have control over his play environment ... and he is very methodical and orderly! See how he is lining up all of the trains on the rug?
Thankfully, Nia Madelynn was very happy to stay put on the couch. We just kept giving her new and interesting toys to look at. Sometimes I think we have an outrageous number of toys around here ... but they sure come in handy in a pinch!
We got the alphabet blocks out and did Nathan's name, but he really wasn't very interested in that. He just wanted to line all the blocks up in very neat and perfect rows! And then he stacked them up ... very neatly, and in perfect rows! He has a real steady hand and a great eye for balance and symmetry.
Grandpa enjoyed Queenie staying close to him. She is just as sweet as she can be!
We looked at quite a few books, both upstairs and in the playroom downstairs today. I was impressed with Nathan's attention span. For a just-turned three-year-old, he really sits quiet and still for a good story! He went through this animal book and could name every single animal. He was so excited to find Shamu (the whale) too! He could make a pretty decent dolphin sound as well. I guess all of those days at the zoo and at Sea World have been to good benefit!
We did a little bit of coloring, but mostly Nathan wanted ME to color, with him dictating just exactly how it should be done!
Meanwhile, outside, we were getting our first accumulating snowfall of the season ... three days before Thanksgiving! That's been the norm around here for the last few years. I hope it stays around at least long enough for Christmas.
Nia seemed to really enjoy playing this shape ball with Grandpa Jones. When my boys were little, this was one of the first toys we ever had for them.
Nia will be 15 months on Thanksgiving Day. She is at a really sweet little age. She has the cutest laugh and the most alluring dimples! She took a 3-hour nap today, which gave us a lot of 1-on-1 time with Nathan Paul.
Downstairs in the playroom, Nathan got right to work making a very elaborate something ... I didn't know what it was, so I asked him what it was he was making. "I'm making a boat, Granny! See it?"
Boo bear took a nap with some of the other animals. I told Nathan that Boo Bear was a very good bear today ... but Nathan didn't agree! "No, Granny, Boo is NOT a bear. He is Boo!"
Nathan lined up all 39 Matchbox cars ... in a nice neat row on the rug. I built him a wooden road with a few towers and tunnels.
Here is Nathan having a conversation with these trucks. Actually, the TRUCKS were having the conversation. The blue one ... see it? Nathan had a special voice for this truck and it kept saying to the other trucks, "Hi. I'm a silly truck ... but I can't fly!" On the top of the blue truck, there is a little radar antenae that you can kind of spin around ... I think Nathan mistook it for a propellar of some sort.
We WOKE Nia up from her nap. Look how rested she looks! She was very content all day, just to hang out with us old folk. She really wasn't a bother at all! She seemed fascinated with the snow, which had continued to fall while she was sleeping.

Nia stood by the doorwall in the family room watching the snow come down ... isn't she precious?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A happy surprise!

This post is sort of a confession, and I know I'm bad ... but let me explain! When Grandpa McNeil brought Nathan and Nia over to our house Thursday morning, he had a bag of wrapped presents from Nicolas and Rachel for Grandpa Jones and I. Grandpa Jones took the bag and laid it on the ironing board in the upstairs hallway, and I just never noticed it until about an hour ago when I needed to iron a piece of clothing (I only iron when I absolutely have to!). The bag was one of those that you can kind of see through and as I was moving it into the spare room so that I would remember to get it back out again for Christmas, I just couldn't help but notice these two letters ... because they were not wrapped!
I've been whining about not having an "N" for Nia all year (sorry about that) and then Lottie was born and that just doubled my sense of incompletion about our darling little letter train that Rachel started for us, I think when Nathan was born!
I even went to Michael's last week with the express purpose of purchasing a letter "N" as well as an "L" so that I could have a nine-grandchild train for our mantle instead of a seven-grandchild one. I wasn't sure about how I would paint those letters as I'm not real gifted in the painting department and I don't have those supplies here at home. And besides, Rachel has a real flair for this! I knew my letters would look kind of sickly next to hers!
When I got to Michael's over on Alpine, they told me they had not carried these little train letters for over a year at their location ... perhaps I could try over on 28th street! I was going to run over to Hobby Lobby that same day to see if they carried these letters, but had one too many errands to do and never got over there ~ and I hardly ever travel over to 28th street!
It's been very disconcerting to have a cute little train with only seven grandchildren represented for a year when we in fact had eight, and now nine! So anyway, I reached right in that bag ... yes I did! I grabbed out those two letters, loudly shouting "horray," and smiling a very huge SMILE! Grandpa Jones isn't home ... he's over at a train buddy's house for the day ... think how surprised and pleased he will be!
See all nine grandchildren cars? They just barely fit on a stretch of track! Grandpa Jones is, of course, the engine! And I am the caboose ... hmm ... I suppose that is appropriate! Perhaps you think I should have waited until Christmas, but I just couldn't! Thanks, Rachel, for making my day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Thursday with Nathan and Nia

Two of the Jones grandchildren, Nathan and Nia, are here in Grand Rapids visiting the grandparents for a couple of weeks! Grandpa McNeil brought them over to visit us a little before 9:00 this morning.
Nia was a little bit upset with the situation, and I thought we might even have some real tears. We quickly brought them both into the family room to play trains ... whew! No tears, but Queenie definitely DID NOT want to be put down. For most of the day, she attached herself like glue to either grandpa or me.
We had a mid-morning snack of apples and yogurt. I thought I was going to be in trouble for a minute when Nathan looked at his apples and said, "Dip dip pwease." I did not have any of that special very yummy fruit dip ~ you know, the one with the marshmallow and whipped cream ~ but I did have vanilla yogurt that I put into a little bowl and it seemed to satisfy Mr. Nathan just fine!

Nathan said, "Cute fish, granny."
"What's his name?"
So we had a talk about Nemo and then later in the day,
we did watch part of the video ...
Nia hugged tightly to her bunny all during snack time ...
We split our time between the family room and the basement play room. Nathan loves cars and had a great time getting them all out of the suitcase and zooming them around our rug.
We thought Nia would want to play with the cars too, but she really really did not want to leave Grandpa's arms! Nathan kept bringing her various toys for her to look at and hold. He did a nice job of sharing today.
For some reason, Nathan lined up all of our little stuffed animals against the wall, and then had Boo bear (Nathan's really HUGE special bear friend) come and pick out who he wanted to be friends with. I missed some good pictures of Boo meeting all of these new friends. I didn't want to interrupt Nathan's play by snapping a picture; but it was pretty cute to see him talking to Boo and explain who all of these new animals were. We were also playing music and had our instruments out and at one point, Boo played a pretty wild tambourine!
Nia was pretty tired and went down for a nap after lunch. She slept for two hours!
It looks like Grandpa should have taken a nap too! I took this picture just after Grandpa got Nia up from her nap. She was real snuggly afterwards.
We read some books for awhile. Nia especially liked this one about the fish. Doesn't it look like she is really reading it?
After many warnings about Thomas K. to Nathan, I finally let them be in the same room. It was time for Tommy's cream and Nathan enjoyed watching his tongue lap it up.
Miss Nia finally allowed herself a bit of fun apart from one of us ... but it was really close to 4:00 before she did this. That's okay, though, because we enjoyed snuggling with her.
And this shot of Nathan is just such a typical face for him! He has a great smile. I think grandpa and I did okay for our first visit with these little ones. It's hard to be a long-distant grandparent. Kiddos this young just really do not remember who we are in-between times. It will be good to make some memories, take some pictures, and have some fun for the next few weeks!