Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas, 2011!!

We have had so much fun this Christmas season with the kids. Reilly and Braxton are getting to an age where they really seem to "Get it" and it has been so cool to do some real intentional things with them to help instill the true Spirit of Christmas, as well as some other just fun things!

For our 12 Days of Christmas this year, we started off at the Kannapolis Village Park. This was our first time there and it was so neat! Definitely something we'll have to remember for next year. There's a small train that goes around the whole park and they had lights/lighted scenes all throughout. There were singing bears, and amazing light show set to Transiberian Orchestra-type music, and Santa...for FREE! :) The kids had a blast just running around, dancing to the music, riding the train in the dark through the lights and watching the singing bears.

The next night we created a family Gingerbread house together. Always an adventure to see how much candy actually ends up on the house vs. in someone's mouth or just on the floor!

We did some homemade Christmas gifts the next day and then celebrated a friend's birthday and spent the night with Grandpa and Nanny the next day! Monday was by far my favorite day and something we will definitely be doing more of! We called it "Invisible Angels" day. In the morning, I talked to the kids about the angels in the Christmas story and how Angels help people and take care of them. We also talked about that angels are around us and we can't see them, just like Jesus is always with us and we can't see Him = invisible. Then we talked about celebrating Jesus' birthday and how we can't wrap up gifts to give Him but we could give Him other kinds of gifts... "Loving others and doing nice things" is what Reilly came up with! So, that's what we did! We set out on a mission to be "invisible angels" and to do some "random acts of kindness" for Jesus's birthday presents. Our first stop was the Dollar Store. I gave the kids two $1 dollar bills each and they had to hide them in the toy section so that a little boy/girl would find a $1 one day and be able to buy a special treat while there. The next stop was Chick-Fil-A where we were set to pay for the car behind us. As we were in line and saw a car pull up behind us, we said a prayer that God would bring them joy when we paid for their lunch. When we got to the window, I paid for the lady's order and told the guy to tell her we said "Merry Christmas!". Reilly was so excited and got out of her seat to turn around backwards and watch as the lady pulled up to the window. We saw her hold her money out of the window and then just stare at the guy who was obviously telling her we paid. Reilly got so excited and said, "Mommy! She just looked at our car and smiled!" Precious. Our next stop was Walmart. We had to get a few groceries and then we stopped by the gift card kiosk and got a Walmart giftcard. After we paid, we walked up and down the row of registers, looking for someone to give the giftcard to for them to use to pay for their groceries. I spotted a lady wtih 3 kids and an overflowing cart and suggest Reilly give it to her. Her instructions were to just walk up, hand the card over, say "Merry Christmas!" and walk away. She was a bit hesitant (shy!) and so I took her hand and we walked up to the lady together. The lady took the card, looked very confused, and then smiled so big when we just said "Merry Christmas!" and walked away. The best part of the whole day came we were walking away, I heard one of the little girls say, "Mommy, who was that?!" and the lady just replied, "I think it was an angel." Wow. Priceless. After dinner, Shawn took R and B out for a few more random acts. They went to a coffee shop and bought some hot chocolate and then delivered it to one of the Salvation Army bell ringers outside of Lowes Foods. Then they taped quarters, candycanes, and a Christmas card the R made to the vending machines. And the last stop was to take a candy cane and a card to the ATM machine at B of A. It was such a fun and special day.
(Too bad everytime we go to CFA now Reilly wants to pay for the person behind us :)
I didn't take any pictures to capture this day, though I wish I had!!

The next included our annual light tour around the neighborhood with popcorn. We sure saw some pretty lights in Highland Creek! Yesterday, the kids and I baked and decorated some pretty sweet sugar if we didn't already have enough cookies in the house! The rest of our 12 Days celebration include a trip to celebrate Christmas in Greensboro with DeeDee and Poppi and Uncle Brandon and Aunt Angel and our super special family Christmas Eve church service/Jesus Birthday Party night. This has been a really fun season for us....just wish Shawn and I didn't have SO much else going on with work (both of us) and school (Shawn) so we could have enjoyed it even more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I know I just posted a gazillion pics of Layton, but I just have to keep posting them :) Afterall, he is my third and historically, the 3rd child hardly has any photos taken of them, so I just need to prove that wrong! These pictures were taken one morning when it was just he and I at home. I just wanted to capture some of his fatness (aka, cuteness!) and of course I got lots more smiles and precious expressions :)

Christmas Jammies

Definitely not my favorite of the Christmas jammies tradition. Don't know if having 3 kids made it more difficult or if it's just that one of them is only 5 months old :) But, I did get a couple cute shots of Layton by himself and only a couple shots of all three. I should probably just try again another day but who's got time for "re-dos" this time of year?! Next year will hopefully be better and easier with their ages :)

Layton- 5 months old

Layton continues to be our chunkiest baby to date :) And I love all of those rolls and chubby cheeks! He is also super laid back and content and overall pretty happy most of the time! Such a blessing being that he is the third! He constantly has something in his mouth...either his fist, all four fingers, his thumb, a toy, a burpcloth, or anything else close by! He drools all the time and I'm pretty sure I can see a tiny bit of "white" under his gums at this point. He LOVES, and I mean loves, his brother and sister. He just laughs at them and almost always smiles when they talk to him! It's the cutest thing ever. He's still napping great...from 10-12 and 2-4:00 and will go without an evening nap if we are out and about or will lay down from an hour and then sleep from 8pm-8am. He has started waking up at random times and I'll hear him in his bed just playing around, talking, making sounds, and then sooner or later he's quiet again and fell back asleep! I've also found him on his back a few times and I've had to go in a turn him back over to his tummy :) He's really starting to play with things now and reaches for anything you put in front of him. He'll also make a choice between two toys if you hold them in front of him! Within the past week or so he's started reaching out and touching my face, which i LOVE! His little hands are just the most precious thing to me and I can't get enough of feeling them in my hands, on my arm while I'm holding him, or on my face. I'm eating him up, that's for sure!! Here's a bunch of random photos from the last month.

he DEFINITELY looks more like Shawn now! especially in this one:
look at that double/triple chin! holy moly!

love the serious face...and the vest is pretty cute too :)

The hunt for a perfect tree...2011

What a difference it was this year!! Our last trip to the Christmas tree farm, it was 25 degrees with winds of at least 20 mph and our visit lasted less than 20 minutes. It was miserable last year!! But this, it must have been in the mid 50's or even close to 60 degrees and absolutely gorgeous!! A few weeks before we headed up to the tree farm, Reilly found Shawn's walkie-talkies and insisted that we bring them with us to help us on our hunt for the perfect tree. The kids had so much fun playing with those things as we got lost in the trees. Ahhhh..the smell of fresh Christmas trees. Nothing like it! This is one of my favorite traditions :)

Reilly couldn't wait to get that star up on top!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random thougths.....

I need to blog a few random sayings and funny/cool things that the kids are doing right now so I don't forget!!

1. Braxton continues to be our little comedian. Last weekend, Reilly said something to him and without even skipping a beat, he looked right at her, repeated what she said, and then said, "you kidding me?!" She looked straight at me with the biggest eyes ever and we both just died laughing. It was so funny. So of course, Braxton uses every possible opportunity to say it again, hoping for the same eruption of laughter :)

2. Reilly has become such a good little pray-er. Almost every night at dinner for the past week or so, she has volunteered to pray. And that's not too out of the ordinary, but, the way she has been praying and what she has been praying has developed and changed and become so mature sounding! It's truly amazing. Shawn almost always says "amen" with tears in his eyes. There's just something so pure and so special about hearing your child talk to God with such an innocence and realness and such sincerity. It's also really fun to see how much she enjoys talking to God. I could listen to her pray all day.

3. After almost 12 full months of speech therapy, twice weekly, Braxton had his final session last week. I couldn't believe it. Thinking back to last year when I was 100% certain he was going to be diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech, which would mean years and years of therapy and lots and lots of work and still maybe never really having "normal" speech, and then seeing where he is now....I cry. Everytime I think about it. It's just amazing to me to see how God has brought us through this. From 12 weeks of Therapeutic Listening, twice daily for 30 minutes, to having to rearrange "my" schedule and plans so that we could be home twice a week for therapy sessions, we are blown away at his progress. And it's so funny to hear him talking like such a "big boy". He says the funniest things and some of the time, I still look at Shawn and say, "did you hear that?!" Tonight though, I had to laugh and thank to myself that this is what happens when you do speech therapy a little too long: Braxton was feeding the cat and accidentally dropped some food on the floor. He immediately looked down at the mess and said, "Dad-gum-it!!!" What?!!! Oops! Guess he's heard that too much...but thankful that's ALL he's heard :) And soooo thankful that he now has the ability to articulate himself so well :) Grateful!

Layton's Infant Dedication

We had such a special service to celebrate our littlest guy earlier this month! We had both Reilly and Braxton dedicated at church around 4 months and the service was very sweet, but very short and not much to it. Well, this year, Meck totally redid the Infant Dedication service and boy was it awesome! We were able to have all the grandparents present which was also really special. Meck has really made the service into something so meaningful and really really intimate. They are requiring that all parents having their babies dedicated attend a "First Steps" class, in which they have the chance to learn about and discuss how they will raise their child to walk with Christ, how they will support their marriage, recognizing it as one of the most significant relationships in their child's life, and how they will grow and strengthen their own walk with Christ as they raise this child. Since we are not first time parents, we didn't attend the class, but did complete some of the homework, which was really really good. The one thing we had to do to prepare for the Dedication service was to write our exactly "who" we wanted Layton to be when he is 18years old; what kind of character we hope to develop in him. And then during the service, we actually shared this very intimate piece with our parents. It was really special. They started out the service with a slideshow of all the babies being dedicated, made from pictures that parents sent in. It was so sweet!

We love how intentional parenting is supported and recognized by our church!

Each family had our own cake to enjoy, with our baby's name on it! How fun?!