Friday, December 26, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas Festivities

Austin made it home from New Zealand 2 weeks before Christmas and Oliver and I about died of happiness! It was just enough time to cram in a bunch of really fun activities, pick a Christmas tree, decorate the house together, etc. We made the most of our time and had an absolute blast! This was probably one of the most special and memorable Christmases we have ever had (and this was our 6th Christmas as a married couple)! 

Some of the things we did: visited Frankenmuth, MI (a really charming town that is decked out at Christmas time and is home to the world's largest Christmas store... it really is a magical place!), took Oliver to see a movie at the movie theater which was a super big deal to him, we had the Wallins over to play games with us one night, we had brunch on Christmas Eve with the Joseph family, attended a surprise baby shower that my really good friend, Samantha, threw for me, made lots of delicious pastries and food, cuddled a lot... you get the idea. 

Besides being in my 9th month of pregnancy and dealing with all the uncomfortable-ness of that, it was a truly amazing Christmas!

Watching the fudge being made at a fudge shop in Frankenmuth, MI.

My handsome guys! 

Oliver loved the "HOT FIRE!"

Getting our Christmas tree home and decorated.

Putting up the star.

He loved hanging out by the presents under the tree.

Oliver's first taste of egg nog. Oliver loved it and Austin was so proud!

Cookies and egg nog after a long evening of Christmas decorating!

I love puzzling during Christmas break and the guys even helped me this year!

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we have a tradition of going to a beautiful, historic church in downtown Ann Arbor that has a live nativity performance every year. They reinact Christ's birth with scriptures from Luke and the congregation joins in singing traditional Christmas hymns. They even bring live animals into the church during the performance. It is really fun and family friendly and also a spiritual experience. We love it!

Afterwards we head home and have a "Dinner in Bethlehem". We eat a simple meal of fattoush, lentil soup, homemade pita, grapes, nuts, cheese, etc. While we eat we read about Christ's birth from The Bible. We have really loved this tradition!

After dinner we leave our special cookies (pinwheels... Austin's favorite cookie in the world) and milk out for Santa and some carrots and such for the reindeer. Then we read Oliver "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and sent him to bed. 

Christmas Eve at a beautiful live nativity performance

Oliver loved seeing all the animals walk through the church! Donkeys, sheep, goats... etc.

Seeing the camel outside after the pageant. This is one of our favorite traditions!

Oliver couldn't help but steal one of Santa's cookies! 

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning Oliver woke up really excited!! He LOVED discovering the marble race that Santa left him by the tree. He didn't even care about all the presents to be opened. He just wanted to play with the race all morning. haha! So, we let him play and we had breakfast "picnic style" on the floor by the tree. I made cranberry-walnut cream scones and bacon and eggs. 

After eating and playing for a while Oliver was finally ready for all the present opening! Boy.... we were sure spoiled this year. We only bought Oliver a few wooden puzzles (from the used kids store too... haha). But, he still ended up with a mound of toys from his Grammy and Grampy, Mimi and Papa, Grandpa Ron and Grandma Jan and even our neighbor brought by a few presents later that day! We couldn't believe how generous and thoughtful everyone was! We are truly blessed to have so many amazing family members and friends. 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, playing with all of Oliver's new toys and making loads of food for Christmas dinner. Austin is so amazing... he insisted on taking care of most of the dinner this year. He made the honey and mustard glazed ham, the pomegranate-balsamic glazed carrots and the kale with crispy pancetta. I made the dill poppyseed bread, the potatoes and brussels sprout gruyere au gratin and the dessert, which was a dark chocolate raspberry roulade (we decided to have a Christmas yule log this year and start a new tradition).

Everything turned out great! Our good friends, the La Croix family, came over to have the yule log with us for dessert. We spent the whole evening together eating and talking while the kids played. It was really fun and relaxing. We will be sad when they move to Tanzania next month.... :( I guess we will just have to try to visit them soon! 

Santa left Oliver a marble race on Christmas morning!

Oliver wearing Grammy's homemade slippers!

Being lazy after opening all our presents! 

Oliver loves his marble race!

Oliver wouldn't eat Christmas dinner.... the little stinker!

Sitting down to Christmas day dinner

Honey glazed ham, pomegranate-balsamic glazed carrots, kale with crispy pancetta, potatoes and brussels sprouts au gratin, and dill poppyseed bread (not pictured). Austin made most of the food this year! What a sweetheart!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Growing a Human Being (Warning: Picture Overload)

Some of my jumbled thoughts and feelings about these 9 months:

Honestly.... this pregnancy has been THE. BEST. It is going SO much better than last time from what I can remember. Yes, I have had 2 1/2 years to recover since my son was born. But, I am 2 1/2 years older than last time, I have a 2 1/2 year old, rambunctious toddler to chase around, AND Austin has been out of the country for the last few (and hardest) months of my pregnancy so I have pretty much been on my own here, playing single mom. You'd think with all that I would be lying around, eating ice-cream with a dirty house (or whatever depressed, pregnant ladies do...). 

The truth is, I feel great! I have had tons of energy, I feel healthier than last time and I don't have 10 pounds of water weight (yet...). When I was pregnant with Oliver I was already so swollen at this point that I could barely bend my knees and I had to buy a pair of extra wide, slip on flats in a size up from my normal shoe size because not a single pair of my shoes fit my feet. That's how swollen I was! I could hardly recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. I am so, incredibly thankful that serious swelling hasn't begun yet and I'm daring to hope that I won't swell much at all this time. Fingers crossed!

With this pregnancy coming unexpectedly to us, I was afraid that I wouldn't be prepared or that I wouldn't feel the same "connection" I felt throughout my pregnancy with Oliver. I struggled for a little bit with the thought that I wouldn't have room in my heart for another baby when I was still so happy and content with my little family of 3. But, it's almost as if my heart has literally grown making room for this boy and he has already filled up that vacant space completely! It's hard to explain. All I know is that I already love him so much! I could never have imagined being capable of this much love towards my little family. 

Being pregnant a second time is really amazing! I have been able to truly enjoy being pregnant this time. Last time I was so nervous about the unknown, anxious for Oliver to come and I had absolutely NO idea what to expect out of motherhood. Those fears (along with the crazy amount of swelling I experienced and my horrible c-section experience) sort of blinded me from the pure beauty of pregnancy. This time I have been able to relax more, enjoy all the fun, little movements in my tummy and really bond with the baby. Plus, I have also been able to soak up these last few months with my Oliver before he has to share me! :) 

Austin will be home (HOORAY!!!) this weekend, I am due 3 weeks later, and with Christmas and New Year's in there I feel like this baby will be here before we know it! Wow! I guess I should probably consider packing a hospital bag sometime in there too... 

Maternity photo shoot (thanks to my wonderful friend, Silke Masullo-

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

34 weeks

36 weeks

36 weeks

36 weeks

36 weeks

36 weeks
Silke Masullo Photography-

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving in Idaho

Where to even begin? I had the most incredible time visiting both of my families for Thanksgiving. With Austin being in New Zealand (again!) for 6 weeks it was a nice distraction to spend time with my family during the Thanksgiving holiday and on our 5 year wedding anniversary. I am so glad I did too! Being alone in Michigan through all that may have been hard on me. 

We flew into SLC really late and my parents picked us up. We spent the night with them and then drove to Ashton to spend the weekend with the Boles fam! Oliver's favorite part of being in Ashton is riding in Grampy's truck to the farm every day and "helping" with the animals and chores. This time they ended up just playing in the snow and making a snow man! haha. They had tons of fun together.

I stuck around the house to help cook and prep for our big Thanksgiving dinner (a week early... heehee). Tal, KarmaSue and Madelyn were up visiting for the weekend and Grandpa and Grandma Orme and Meghan, Ellis and Ellie joined us for dinner too! It was such a blast! We played lots of games and watched some movies and relaxed all together. And, the pie was just divine, of course!

We headed back to Pocatello and spent the week with the Whitney family! It was so nice to get some alone time with my mom! I miss her all the time. If I could just be half of who she is then I will be set in life. Seriously. She is wonder woman! She is an incredible mom and grandma, an amazing cook, she owns and runs an entire business on her own, she is extremely involved at church... the list goes on. She is my hero.

On Thanksgiving day we had an incredible feast and really good company. My cousins, Susan and Katherine and her husband John, joined us, Josh, Rissa and Ender stayed for a few days, and a friend of Hannah's from Medford joined us too. We had a really great time!

Anyway, we did tons of fun things together as a family including watching movies, decorating the Christmas tree, Christmas shopping, going to the Downtown Pocatello Christmas Parade, making sugar cookies, putting a puzzle together and playing tons of games. It was the most fun and relaxed week! 

Overall, I am so happy that we decided to go! Oliver and I LOVED seeing all our family. We were spoiled rotten with love, attention and time with all of our family. It was a trip I will never forget!

Playing in the snow with Grampy at the farm

Oliver's first snowman!!! 

Oliver LOVES feeding Grampy's chickens and collecting the eggs

Spoiled rotten by Grampy on the way home from the farm. haha!

The power went out just before we were going to have Thanksgiving dinner

(Clockwise from bottom) Grandpa and Grandma Orme, Meghan, Ellis and Ellie, Mom and Dad, Tallon, KarmaSue and Madelyn and Oliver and me. 

Mimi crawling around the mall play place with Oliver. I have the best mom in the world! 

Austin sent flowers to my parents house on our 5 year anniversary! So sweet!
Having mexican food with my family to celebrate my anniversary! Oliver is using a barbie brush to comb Papa's bald head... haha!

Papa made his famous unbakers for us!!! Oliver LOVES them!

Oliver and his cousin, Ender!

Hope and Oliver on Santa's lap

My beautiful sister, Rissa with Ender and Oliver at the Christmas parade in Downtown Pocatello

Oliver trying to help Papa get the tree to stand straight

Hannah, Mimi and Oliver snuggled up on the couch

Snitching some of Mimi's sugar cookie dough

Cutting out our Christmas sugar cookies

He likes to be involved in all the steps of the baking process.... even if he ends up covered in flour by the end.