Friday, November 30, 2018

Christopher is FIFTEEN

Thursday, November 29:  FIFTEEN years ago (already?!) Chris was born. He has really grown a lot this year. I remember about six weeks ago when he had gotten into the front seat of my car, that he had grown practically into a man, and it seemed like over night! His voice has changed, and it's kind of ... hard to describe how I feel about it (not that it matters) ... but it just seems odd to have him SO grown up.
Understandably, Chris doesn't come over as much as he used to do. He has a very good friend that he hangs pretty closely with, especially on weekends. I don't have a television (my choice), nor do I have a video game system (also my choice), and I don't really seek to entertain the kiddos while they are here. We just kind of hang out, eat a meal, play some games, etc. It's not really very exciting. It is a little more interesting when we can go outside in the woods and explore (like the picture below). 
Chris is really into sports. He played freshman football this year and he is also playing JV basketball. In the spring, he will once again play Lacrosse. All of that keeps him pretty tied up between practices and games. I'm glad he enjoys athletics. It's good for anyone to be a part of a community/team and work together. 

As always, I pray that God will have His way in Chris's life and heart. I've been asking the Lord to give Chris the kind of faith that changes his life from the inside out--to make his heart receive God's Word and produce fruit that will be ever-lasting, life-changing, and pleasing to God in every way. I love you, dear grandson. 

Calendars, puzzles, and paper airplanes

Thursday, November 29:  I picked Kaity-Girl up from school and we hung out over here tonight. Kaity was happy to see Christmas stuff up, but she told me very firmly that it was NOT Christmas yet and she did not understand why everyone decorates so early! Kaity doesn't understand how FAST time flies by ... it's only a little over three weeks until Christmas! 
 Kaity played with the Nativity Calendar for a little bit while I was getting our dinner together. 
 We did my brand new ($3.99 at Ollie's) Nativity Puzzle together. It's a nice big sturdy puzzle. Kaity really likes putting puzzles together. This came with a CD that has a bunch of nice Christmas carols (sung by children), as well as an activity book (but you have to print that out yourself ... and I haven't done so yet). We listened to the pretty music while we were working on the puzzle.
 I also picked up a new paper airplane book ($2.99 at Ollie's ... it's hard to beat their prices!) and Kaity really went to town with it! We made all five models. She decided to bring them home and share them with Emma, Chris and Matt. I love these pictures of you, Kaity!
 One of the airplane models was called a "Whirly-Gig" and it worked surprisingly well. This is Kaity trying it out. It works best the higher up you can drop it and it twirls around very nicely.
 Kaity was super pleased! 
Me too!

Christmas comes to The Beach House

Wednesday, November 28:  I spent a few hours on Tuesday decorating my little house. I remember last year when I decorated, Brendan came over soon after and announced, "Christmas came to your house too?!" Yes! Yes, it did and it does! I love Christmas. The Beach House is a smaller house than most, so I don't overdo the decorations ... just a few things here and there to amuse the children and hopefully focus on Jesus.
 This is a new tree this year. My other one (still in the shed and up for grabs) is not a pre-lit tree and it takes a lot for me to light it and set it up. This one, IS pre-lit, it's a little bit taller than the prior tree, and it is narrower and so takes up less space. However, because of its height, I had to switch where I usually set it up! I had to jostle some furniture around, but everything worked out just fine.
 Brendan came over, as usual, today. He saw my FP Nativity and declared that his mama had gotten him one and it was almost exactly like this one, but with a few differences! I'm so glad Brendan and Aidan and Erin have this set! It's so much fun for the children to act out the entire story of Christmas. Brendan was excited to show me the one he has when I took him home later. They keep theirs on their fireplace, which is exactly where I would put MINE, if I HAD a fireplace.
 Right away, Brendan looked for my Advent Calendar! It's not usually hung on this wall! But I directed him over to it, and he busily played with it and set the whole thing up. I love the way he plays.

 I love this picture of you, Brendan! In just three months, you will be SEVEN. Time is so so fast.

 Brendan and I played with a bunch of different stuff tonight and truly enjoyed welcoming Christmas into my house. 
This is one of the photo ornaments of Brendan on my tree. I love this picture of him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The last few days ...

Monday, November 26:  We had our first significant snow today, enough to where schools were closed across Kent County and I cancelled my dear Aidan. The roads were icy, and for the first few hours this morning, it was all I could do to keep myself shoveled out due to the heavy snow fall.
Thankfully, roads were clear the prior weekend. I had driven to Detroit to visit Ruthanne and Terry Friday afternoon and stayed until Sunday morning, driving back in time for second service at Calvary. My sister had hosted a big deal for Thanksgiving herself, so she was understandably super exhausted too. So the two of us were like a couple of lumps, but we did do a little bit of shopping, played a few games, watched a few movies, and just took it slow. I was glad about that. I didn't realize how tired I was until I had zero energy all weekend.
 The snow held off until the wee hours of Monday. It certainly is beautiful, isn't it?
 I love Michigan. I love the change of seasons. Like everyone here in Michigan, though, we all wish there were actually four EQUAL seasons of the year instead of winter weather dominating at least five months instead of the more preferred THREE. Anyway, I wouldn't live anywhere else even if I could!
I missed my little Aidan today, though. He is a bright light, a dear little soul. Hopefully, we won't miss another Monday for a very long time.

Thanksgiving 2018

Thursday, November 22:  Thanksgiving 2018

I'm going to try to summarize our day--you see, it didn't play out exactly as we had planned. I took very few pictures (sadly) but I'll post the few that I have.

I don't have a television, intentionally; so the Lions game cannot be watched over here very easily. Rumor has it that I could pick it up on my computer somewhere, but I don't care enough about the Lions to actually find out! Their Thanksgiving Day game began somewhere around 12:30 and would end probably three hours later. I talked Dylan and Kelly into staying at their house to watch the game (and Shane with them). They thought perhaps they could just catch it over here and we could kind of eat and watch, etc. And I don't blame them one single bit for that plan! It SOUNDS like it would work.

Sigh. However, I am NOT an intuitive chef whatsoever; and getting on a big meal is somewhat of a challenge for me. I told the kiddos that I would be best left to cook here without them and then have them join me after the game and we could eat our (hopefully) yummy meal then. Had they all come over earlier, during the time when I was cooking/carving the turkey, making gravy, etc. the littles would have been quite under foot--they are used to having me all to themselves when they are here, and I purposely prepare what we eat WAY ahead of time so that I am not in the kitchen over much when they are here. I can't cook and talk at the same time. I can't cook and hold babies at the same time. I can't cook and LISTEN to great conversations at the same time. In short, I can't cook and do anything else at the same time!

Thankfully, I convinced them that my plan was the only one. However, there was also a side plan. You see, Jesse's family was invited too--but they always spend Thanksgiving first with Di's family (for a brunch) and then Diana fixes a turkey later in the day. She is super good at fixing turkey and I didn't want to take her away from that; so I invited their family to join us for dessert at about 6:30 or so.

Let me run some pictures ...

First of all, THESE babies. Look at them! Are they the cutest babies EVER? Yes, I know, they certainly are! 

 Baby Erin is FIVE MONTHS OLD already! Yikes. She is growing so fast. People are soon going to confuse Erin and Aidan as twins.
 My baby Aidan almost looks like he has reddish hair in these pictures! I wish! Erin too! It must just be the lighting, because I don't think either one of them will be gingers.

Kelly brought a bunch of yummy gluten, egg, dairy, and peanut-free food for her and for the babies. I concocted a rice and broccoli casserole for them (free of any offending ingredients). I cooked the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, banana and pumpkin breads and a few desserts too. Cooking like that is rather exhausting. I hope we can think of a different plan for Christmas. I thought the turkey was a bit dry as well (sigh). Anyway, we ate our meal and everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

Brendan had made some rice crispy treats (chocolate ones) for his cousins to enjoy and decorated them with very cool frosting. He was super excited to show them and had one designed for each particular cousin: Emma, Chris, Matt and Kaity. We waited for Jesse's family to come and finally received a text that their turkey was still in the oven and that it was going to be awhile before their meal would be ready. It was getting late here, the babies were fussy (Aidan was crazy tired ... he walks around in circles when he is that exhausted and he is so darling ...), so by about 7:45 or so, everyone went home. We told Jesse's family not to worry. Brendan was very sad and shed a few tears about not seeing his cousins, but we told him we would try to arrange a time soon for him to see them. Holidays are stressful, aren't they? For the most part, ours was just fine. It is always good to be with family. Believe it or not, this was baby Erin's introduction to the Beach House! She seemed to like it here just fine, but her mom and dad were close by attending to her--so what was not to be happy about? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Just in time for the movie

November 21, Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday):  Yesterday, I was checking out movies that were playing and found out that "Christopher Robin" was showing over at the Woodland Mall Celebration Theatre! What I wasn't careful to note was the TIME of the movie. I saw there was a 2:45 showing and assumed that it meant we could see the movie TODAY at 2:45 in the afternoon.

Well ... I was out doing yard work this morning and got talking with a few neighbors and ended up staying outside longer than I had planned. I came inside at about 11:30 just to double check the movie time ... good thing I did ... because the ONLY time it was playing today was at 12:35! YIKES. 

I called Kelly, switched our times, jumped into my car and drove over to pick this cutie up. We made it just in time for the movie. You see, this is the VERY movie Brendan wanted me to see Friday night when I was taking care of he and Aidan--but we never were able to get it to play on their TV (see Friday's post). Brendan was super excited to see this on the big screen. So that's what we did! We got a HUGE bucket of buttery popcorn and ate ever single piece!
 After the movie, we decided to hang around the mall a little bit. Brendan is so fun to go shopping with. He is not a whiny person. He doesn't beg for stuff (at least not from me). He is VERY interested in looking around, checking out various toys, games, books, etc. We spent a very long time in Barnes & Nobles reading various books he would hand to me. One of them was a history of Egypt, very colorful, with lots and lots of cool pictures. I was explaining that one of the pictures was a drawing of Tutankhamun--but then Brendan disagreed and said "No, grandma--that's not Tutankhamun, that's Amenhotep the First!" I squinted my eyes at him as if to say ... how on earth do you know names like that? But Brendan proceeded to give me a whole history of the guy. We looked him up in the book a little bit and went back to the picture. In the meantime, Brendan decided that it wasn't Amenhotep the First, it was Amenhotep the SECOND! Goodness sakes. He kills me.
 Brendan got a bacon, gouda cheese and egg sandwich at Starbucks and this is where these pictures were snapped. We had a nice little chat while he was eating. I had wanted to eat at my favorite fish place, Culvers, but Brendan really really wanted to eat bacon! I told him Paco would be very offended.
 Anyway, we had a nice time together--but we always do. This little person is just nice right down to his toes. He loves to play and pretend and converse ... he is darling through and through.
I love you, Brendan dear!

Short stuff

Monday, November 19:  Baby Aidan was here today. He strutted around the place like it was his very own palace. He is the sweetest little guy. Almost immediately, he strapped Cocoa into the high chair for snack time. Aidan didn't eat much at my house today. I am a bit baffled. I have a cupboard especially for him too--full of gluten-free, egg-free, peanut-free, and dairy-free snacks, etc. The only thing that half way interested him today was the fruit gummies ... last week, at least he ate a toasted waffle loaded with syrup! I've got to work on this food thing ...
 We mainly hung around here, going from room to room looking at stuff. Aidan points and grunts, and I tell him, give him words for what he is seeing. He likes me to hold him up to all of the lighthouses I have around here. He smiles super big at them. My kind of kid for sure!
 Here he sits on his window seat, checking out a good book. He is super serious about his books and has several favorites here that he chooses every time.
 He looks quite studious, doesn't he? So cute. 
 Mr. Aidan! You are SO SHORT. My mother used to say to me, "Carol Jean! You are SO TALL!" which I hated with all my might ... so I hope never to tell Aidan that he is SO SHORT! But his tiny body is so dang cute, isn't it? 
I love you to pieces, baby Aidan!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Girls only!

Saturday, November 17:  So it was a girls only day at my house today. The boys were invited to a trampoline place with their friend, Tyler, so that's what they decided to do. I don't blame them one bit! I would have chosen that too! But the girls came over without their brothers. We just basically hung out and did indoor stuff.
 These alphabet foam squares can be used for lots of things. Kaity and I had played with them Thursday when she was here, but then I decided to show her how you can build stuff (basic) out of them too. She liked it very much. We decided to built two houses for some of our smaller stuffed animals. It was a lot of fun.
 Kaity! You kill me, sweetie. I love you so.
 We got the houses set up and Kaity did a bunch of stuff with "feeding" the animals, having visits between the two houses, and generally amused herself for quite awhile.
 A little later, we got out a ton of art stuff. Earlier in the week, I had found two little books Emma had made when she was 8 or 9 (in Texas). I grabbed those out of my art box and showed them to Emma. She had a lot of fun looking at them and remembering the stories she wrote. We laughed SO hard.
 Emma really enjoys my piano. I'm so glad. I wish she could take lessons. She has perfect hands/fingers for almost any instrument. She told me today that listening to me play Fur Elise (and I play it badly) was when she decided she loved the sound of piano. Emma listens to music constantly. She has a bunch of favorites on youtube that she listens to. She has very good taste in music too.
 Kaity did some tracings and rubbings and a few drawings ....
 And then Kaity made music on my piano too. Kaity likes all the different sounds this piano can imitate. Emma was helping her set up some stops, and then Kaity did a little recording of a very random song (but it was pretty!).
 Kaity looks like a "natural" playing this instrument, just like Emma. It must be because she has beautiful hands and fingers like her sister.
 Doesn't it look like Kaity has had lessons and can actually play? I wish that were true! I took lessons from the time I was 10 until I was 15--and then I also took a year of piano my freshman year in college.
We enjoyed some hot cocoa and cookies later in the evening, before returning the girls home. I am thankful for grandchildren, girls AND boys ... seven is truly a blessing.

These two ...

Friday, November 16:  Dylan and Kelly had a potluck to attend; they offered to take baby Erin along, but could I come and take care of the boys? Sure! I arrived a little after 6:00. Aidan was already tired and doing his little walking in circles thing ...
 Brendan had in mind to watch the "Christopher Robin" Winnie the Pooh movie that was programmed on their TV set in the basement. So we marched on down there, popcorn in hand, to see the movie. However, we mis-laid the remote somewhere in the process of the movie loading ... while we were trying to find it, Aidan entertained us (naturally) to several of his completely hysterical antics ...
 I've altered many of these pictures, because Aidan was too close to my camera, he had a bunch of yucky stuff around his nose (which I call goobers), and I was laughing too hard to focus.
 Mr. Aidan was feeding his popcorn to his grandma ... by the handfuls. When I protested with outrageous faces, he would crack up. OR if I would gobble the whole handful (including part of his little hand), it would set him into fits of laughter ...
 Meanwhile, we still could NOT locate the remote ... no movie was being watched ... Aidan was getting more tired by the minute, Brendan was talking constantly about the movie we were supposed to be watching ...
 FINALLY! We found the remote! Yes! BUT would it actually activate the desired movie? No way. We fiddled with it awhile longer, but then retreated back upstairs.

By this time, it was well after 8:00--and their bed time is 7:30. So we did the bedtime routine and everyone was nicely tucked away by 8:30. We said our prayers, I read from their prayer book, we hugged, I cuddled with Aidan a tiny bit, and then laid him down and rubbed his adorable head while talking to Brendan about not spilling his entire water bottle all over his bed, gave Brendan a "high-paw", closed their door and ... NOT a sound! I think they fell instantly to sleep. I think all of our laughter wore these boys to a frazzle. I went out in the easy chair in the front room and fell asleep too!