Thursday, December 31

End of '09

It's been quite a year. I looked back at some of my blog entries for the year and I laughed quite a bit.

We've done a lot of fun things, caught up with some great people, made a ton of memories and shared a lot of love. Matt and I have a stronger marriage, thus a stronger family, than we ever have. We've never been so committed to each other or our love for one another.

In 2009, I got a job I wasn't even looking for and found a joy I didn't know I was missing.

God has also blessed us with spiritual growth and development through amazing programs at our church, wonderful Christian friends, and an amazing mentor couple who has helped to strengthen our path. They are like the guardrail on either side of the highway...making sure we don't take an inappropriate turn and end up in a ditch.

It really has been an amazing year. We've been blessed far beyond what we deserve and we are so grateful to all our family and friends who have helped and supported and laughed with us along the way through 2009.

I pray that everyone be blessed, happy & healthy in 2010! See you on the flip side!

Wednesday, December 30

Happy Birthday, Gene!

Today, my boys came home. They have been with their grandparents since Sunday and I was really happy to have them home. My parents (who had Payton) met with Matt's parents (who had Maxwell) for brunch today. I love that they all get along like that!

After brunch, Matt's parents brought both boys up to our house for Gene's birthday "celebration". We kept it small and relaxing, just hanging out here at the house. But Matt and I had a pretty nice birthday dinner planned for him; beef kabobs with peppers and mushrooms, rice and salad. And of course, no birthday is complete without brownies and ice cream!

It was a great day! Happy Birthday, Gene!

Tuesday, December 29

Christmas in Berea

We ventured to Berea, OH, my hometown, on December 26th & 27th to spend some quality tome with my family. And "quality" is quite a word for it. We all had a great time.

This was the first Christmas that there have been so many of us. Like at Thanksgiving, we just have grown a lot in the last year. My father's brother who has been distant from the family for many years has made a return over the last few years and I've really enjoyed having him back. And the boys are learning to love him too.

My two single brothers are no longer single, so their "others" were there; Hope & Amy. They are both amazing women with so much to offer to the world and our family. I hope they are both here to stay. ;)

We began with present opening where the boys were (again) spoiled rotten. Then, dinner! We served sushi, pizza and McDonald's french fries. YUM! Everyone was happy as we have a few picky eaters.

Then, on to the Beg, Borrow & Steal stockings. We've been doing this for a few years now. Everything in the stocking my be acquired without paying for it. I did a lot of begging on facebook and got some great things! We all had a wonderful time.

The time with my family is always too short. I wish we could have stayed for another day, but Matt had to get back to work. While we were trying to leave, it ended up that one boy stayed with each of the sets of grandparents. Those boys always weasel their way in if they can. ;) Matt and I have been alone the last few days sorting and rearranging furniture. Our Christmas present of new dining furniture came today as well.

Here are some pics of the "Berea Festivities":

Friday, December 25

Christmas Day

This is the first year we didn't spend Christmas Day with family...well, extended family. We came home from Toledo last night and spent today just the four of us at home. It was actually really nice to wake up, have the kids play with all their toys, enjoy our home and be in our kitchen and relax.

The boys started with their stockings and then their gifts. Through the afternoon, they played with a lot of the items they got from the Kobylak Family on Christmas Eve. It was nice to have a bit of break between our two family holiday celebrations.

This afternoon we played video games, played board games, watched Wall-E, did science experiments and read books. Matt had to go to work for a few hours this afternoon, but overall, it was a really nice day.

Christmas Eve

Whew! I always know how exciting and exhausting Christmas Eve with the Kobylak Family is going to be, but that never means I'm less tired afterwards.

The day started with Christmas present exchanging with his parents and brothers and then moved into another exchange with Matt's grandmother. Then moved into the traditional Wigilia Dinner with Matt's father's family. What a great day!

Payton's best moments were his Nintendo DS Lite from us, the accessory case from his Uncle Jason, and books from his great-aunt Chris & great-uncle Tim.

Maxwell's favorites were his "driver" helmet & steering wheel from his grandparents and his little toy kitty from great-aunt Debbie & great-uncle John.

Tons of pictures are on my facebook page. But here are a few of the highlights.

I hope you and your family had a great start as well. Pictures from Christmas Day to come soon...

Tuesday, December 22

Advent Calendar: Days 18-22

Whew!! Getting ready for Christmas is exhausting! And time consuming!

Day 18: "Go to the Rochester Lights"

My dad came to town to join the rest of us and we decided to hit the lights of Rochester. It's an area about 3 city block long where they decorate the buildings top to bottom in lights. It's AMAZING and very cool to see. The boys have never been, nor had my parents.

Day 19-22: It's all a blur. And it goes by so fast. And now my inlaws have the boys, so there aren't really any more advent papers to be pulled.

Most were things like "have hot cocoa" or "watch ____________ (random Christmas movie)". Sunday was "Christmas performance at Church".

The boys did really well. Maxwell did AMAZING! I was really impressed. I thought he'd panic when he got up there and he did at first, but then when he saw us all in the seats, he did really well. He was visibly proud of himself and did all the hand motions and knew all the words.

Payton was more interested in reading what was on the screen than actually singing (no surprise there).

Both boys have had a great few days with their grandparents in Toledo as well. Matt and I will be joining them on Thursday for Christmas Eve with the Kobylak Family.

Thursday, December 17

Advent Calendar: Days 15, 16, & 17

Whew!! The last week before Winter Break at schoool and my mom's here, so we've been REALLY busy!!

Day 15: Forgot to do anything...
Sorry, I slacked on this one.

Day 16: Make a Holiday Craft
At school, the art teacher and I hosted a Family Holiday Craft Night. We had organized 6 crafts for families to do for only $2 per child! It was super cute and lots of fun. My mom brought the boys and they really enjoyed the free reign to do what they wanted with everything. Everyone had a GREAT time!

Day 17: Read "The Night Before Christmas"
Hallmark has a really cool item this year that I saw back in November. They have a book of The Night Before Christmas where you can record someone reading the story. It'd be neat to have child who's just learning to read record it and then keep it forever. But I wanted my dad to read it for my boys. I asked him to pick up a copy and he did and sent it with my mom on her trip to visit us.

Tonight, the boys opened the wrapping and found the book. Little did they know that Papa's voice was going to read it to them. They were so excited when they heard him! Payton knew right away who it was. They listened to it three times before calling Papa to thank him for the book.

They may not realize it now, but someday this will be a treasured item. We'll treat it with great love and respect and hopefully it will last many years. And someday, maybe my grandchildren will listen to their great-grandfather read them a story, even when he's no longer around.

Thanks, Dad. It's very special to me.

Monday, December 14

Advent Calendar: Day 14

"Watch Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer"

...and make Christmas Pizza from yesterday. At least these two went together well.

We made the pizzas, another tradition that I've worked into our advent calendar this year, and then settled in for pizza and a movie.

We use premade crust (because I'm lazy like that lately). I use green peppers for the tree part and then let the boys decorate with bacon and mini-pepperoni that looks like ornaments. They each made one and they were very good!

They liked Rudolph too!