Sunday, December 29, 2013

Speaking of Family....

.... the Christmas celebrations go on and on!

Michigan Christmas --- With Jon's Family
Adam and Jon really enjoyed their trip to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family. They celebrated at the new condo of one of his sisters and they tell me it's lovely! As always, there was tons of good food and a gazillion presents.

Grandma with a craft we made for her.
I made these with a girls group this fall and then the boys made several for family member Christmas gifts.

Jon's oldest sister, Kay, turned 60 today!
Happy Birthday Kay!
We love you!

Adam and Kelly playing in the snow at Grandma's house.
I have no idea how this picture is snowing, but it's so cool, right?

Ray and I were very excited to welcome Jon and Adam home from their trip. It was so cute to see how much the boys missed each other. They brought home a mountain of presents for Ray (celebrating his birthday as well as Christmas).
It was CRAZY how excited Ray was to receive the Game of Life from his Grandma. And we know when Ray REALLY likes a gift ---- he hold it over his head and screams. ;)

A remote control helicopter from Aunt Kay.
(Adam got one too and they can battle! I might need to start wearing a helmet around here.)

Did I mention that there was a MOUNTAIN of gifts for Ray?

The Game of Life is the new game of choice around here!
Christmas With Pappy and Mary
My dad and Mary arrived for a visit a few days ago.... bringing yet another mountain of gifts. We are so blessed by so many loving and generous family members.... I try really hard to keep the focus on visiting and celebrating the real reason for the season, but the gifts have been very exciting too.
Dad and Mary are going on a great trip to Hawaii this winter, so we had fun putting together a basket of Hawaiian themed gifts for them.

The boys got lots of Skylanders figures and some Skylander Mega Blocks sets from Pappy and Mary. I must have been pretty excited about those because all my pictures turned out blurry. I did, however, get a good shot of another "over-the-head" favorite of Ray's ----

I was delighted to receive an entire box of sparkly stuff!!!! I'm talking about glitter, glitter glue, glitter nail polish..... really fun stuff! I need to have a sparkle play date or something. You can see in the picture below how (non)thrilled Adam is with it. ;)

And so the Christmas season continues. I think we've made it through all the gift-giving. We are still enjoying our 12 days of Christmas family surprises and we've got lots of fun non-gift celebrations planned with family and friends in the next several days.

10 Years of Family Christmas Greetings

 Time flies when you're raising a family!

On this Feast of the Holy Family, may we all imitate the faith, love, patience, gentleness, and strength of THE Holy Family -- Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. May all of our families grow in holiness and proclaim with our lives the JOY of living God's Way.

We began a new tradition today for the Feast of the Holy Family. After Mass we took the boys to *Brio* for a fancy family meal. (Thankfully, we had a gift card!) We really enjoyed that time together and we had a nice discussion about what it means to be a family and what our goals are as a family.

Thank you God for my wonderful family!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Merry Christmas!

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift 

and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

                                                               -- Robert Louis Stevenson
Christmas Eve

We attended the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve.... along with approximately 3,421,877 others. It was an "awesome" experience of Christian community coming together to adore Baby Jesus. Next year I think our parish needs to rent Nationwide*Arena for Mass.

Next we headed to my mom's house for our family Christmas celebration. Mom challenged us to a tacky Christmas outfit contest.

We won! Duh.... don't ever challenge US to be tacky!

My mom looked too pretty to be tacky!

Adam was a tacky little elf.
After a yummy spaghetti dinner, we opened presents. The very first present the boys opened from my mom was the item they were most waiting for this year.... Skylanders Swap Force.

Colleen and Carter showing off some of their gifts.

The kids loved their "Comic Hamster" t-shirts that I made for them. Comic Hamster is a cartoon character that Carter invented. They all love to draw and be part of his "company." The shirts have their logo on them --- "We know and think awesome!" They think they are a "real company" now that they have shirts.

My mom made beautiful scarves for all of us girls and made this refugee lady Colleen a lovely quilt.

Scarf Sisters!
(Being photo bombed by the tree angel)

Didn't get a good picture, but here the boys are eating our traditional "snowman ice cream" dessert.

My Uncle Duey with my Mom

She's such a gift to us! ;)

*Somehow I don't have a picture of my brother-in-law, but he was there too. ;)
Christmas Morning
Ready to go downstairs!

First stop --- a prayer with Baby Jesus

We are so blessed to be able to give and share gifts at this time of year. We try to keep it pretty simple, but it always seems to get out of hand. We really enjoyed taking our time opening gifts and it was so fun - as always - to see the joy and excitement in the boys' faces. They are growing up so quickly.

Santa brought a game table on which we can play ping pong, foosball, air hockey, and basketball!! We need to assemble it this weekend.

Adam appropriately received this book of funny poems --- "The Armpit of Doom."

A new tote bag for me!
An apron and breakfast supplies for our "King of Breakfast!"

These special gifts were saved for last ---
Each boy received a Nabi 2 tablet from us. We are hoping they'll be useful tools for school as well as lots of fun for playing games, etc.
Christmas Dinner
We enjoyed a relaxing family day of playing with gifts and lounging in our pajamas. I even got to take a long Christmas nap! My mom joined us for a delicious ham dinner.

The Christmas Season
We started a new tradition this year! We are going to try to really celebrate the entire SEASON of Christmas. We'll be singing carols, seeing lights, and enjoying special meals and activities throughout these twelve days. I made a tower of family gifts.... one for each day of the Season. Each day we'll open a gift, sing the 12 Days of Christmas song (up to the corresponding day), and pray together. The gifts include things like snacks, games, cds, etc that we can all enjoy together. Yesterday the tower included two books about the 12 days of Christmas and a "Merry Christmas" banner which we hung in the school room.
Many blessings from our family to yours. May you savor and celebrate this Holy Season and remember that God came to Earth as a vulnerable little baby.... to teach all of us to open our hearts to love.  How will you know, celebrate, and receive Him anew this year?