Thursday, December 30, 2010

You're Going to Shoot Your Eye Out...And Other Christmas Traditions

Update: My dear mother--in-law had a few more details to add to the traditions that were established in their home when Chris was growing up. I loved reading this and hearing more about the way they spent Christmas together in their home, and I wanted to share it here. Look below for the added material.

This year was our first Christmas spent at our home here in Virginia, unless you count the Christmas we spent in Virginia two years ago - although we spent the entire holiday in the NICU that year.

It was a very relaxing, low key, "quiet" (ahem...2 boys = not so quiet....but relatively speaking), quality family time Christmas.

I just felt giddy this year as we were able to really enjoy it with our children. Last year,although I loved being in Minnesota, the boys were both sick with colds and truthfully they were pretty miserable as we traveled and spent our Christmas there. Chris and I ended up holding them most nights in the recliner so that they could get some sleep (and we could too)...anyhow...I digress...

The boys were SO in to the celebration of Christmas this year. It was fun to watch it through their eyes and to see them experiencing the magic of it all for the first time.

Right after Thanksgiving we started doing Elf on the Shelf with them. We didn't focus much on the whole story behind the Elf, because #1. I don't think the boys would get the whole idea of the elf going back and reporting to Santa on their behavior and #2. I find it pretty creepy to think about this elf that hangs around and watches your every move all day long and then when you're sleeping he goes to the North Pole and tells Santa about it. Sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of to me! So instead we just made it a daily game of "Find the Elf!" The boys would wake up every morning in their cribs and when we would go in to their room they would say "Elf! Elf! Down! Down!" We would set them on the floor and they would RUN down the hallway, their little necks looking left and right, searching for their little red friend.

That little elf made his rounds I tell you! When you have to find 20 whatever plus hiding spots for each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas you need to get a little creative about where he goes! He hung from the lights, got stuck on top of our tree, hugged a bottle of wine, had his legs hanging out from the cupboard door, peeked around the clock...he got around!

Growing up my family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. We would get all dressed up. My Grandma Brustuen would always come over to spend the evening with us. We would meet in the kitchen in the late afternoon and have appetizers of shrimp, pickled herring (for Mom!), and eggnog. We would sit around and visit for an hour or two before moving to the dining room for a nice dinner served on china. After dinner we would have to clean up (always seemed to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r.!), and then we would meet up in the living room (a.k.a. the yellow room) afterwards. Many of us would gather around the piano while Mom played and we would sing Christmas songs. Some religious and some secular, some slow and some fast...always trying to please everyone. We would then read the Christmas story and in recent years we have begun to do a white elephant gift exchange together. After the silly gift exchange we would begin with the actual opening of stockings and gifts. We would always take turns, one person at a time, going around the room opening up gifts one by one. That way we were able to really enjoy the experience and see what everyone was given.

After opening gifts my uncle, aunt and cousins would come over for cookies and coffee and we would sit and visit until late in the night. I have such fond, fond memories of many Christmas Eves spent that way...and to this day that is still our tradition there!

Chris, however celebrated his Christmas a bit different. He would go to church on Christmas Eve and then they would open one gift when they got home. The next morning they would wake up and there would be some gifts unwrapped under the tree from Santa along with wrapped presents from his parents. They would then open gifts and enjoy the morning and some delicious food just hanging out together. This is just wonderful Beth, establishing family traditions will always mean so much to your little ones:)There are a few things Chris left out that I would like to share with you. During Advent we talked daily about the Advent calendar and what Advent was all about (on their level of course). We baked cookies, decorated the tree (usually two of them), made ornaments for the trees, and the children made gifts for grandparents and for their dad and me. They always participated in the Christmas program at church. On Christmas Eve we always attended Christmas Eve service. It was a very special time for us. The little ones would always go in their pj's as they would usually fall asleep at the 11 pm service. As they got older, we would come home after the service, the kids would put on their new pj's which they got every Christmas to last the winter, have some cookies and usually apple juice in "real" glasses, talk about Jesus and it being His birthday, and each open one gift. We could hear them all talking for an hour or so after that...but then early the next day they were ready to go!! Christmas Day was spent either at home (if Doug worked day shift) with dinner in the evening and a visit to Grandmother and Granddaddy another weekend, or Christmas morning at home and then to Grandmother and Granddaddy's for Christmas dinner. Regardless of what shift Doug was working, he ALWAYS was there for the children when the woke up on Christmas morning. This was so very special for them and for me. Love to you sweet family as you begin your own very special traditions:) Mom H./Mawmaw

Since we have been married we just celebrated however it worked best around our travels. We have always traveled either to Virginia or Minnesota for every single Christmas since we started dating, so we were not able to really have any Christmas Eve or Christmas Day traditions of our own. Now that we have children though we both feel it is very important to establish those traditions for just the five of us.

So a few months ago the two of us went out to eat and we talked about what traditions we would like to start with our family. I feel like we created a nice balance between what I was raised with and what Chris was raised with. I am sure as the years go on our traditions will grow and morph somewhat, but here are some of the traditions we have started with our family and some that we will start when they are a bit older:

Before Christmas

  • Elf on the Shelf

  • Make a gingerbread house

  • Take part in Operation Christmas Child

  • Drink hot cocoa and go drive around looking at lights

  • Make roll out cookies together and decorate

  • Go caroling at a nursing home or somewhere such as that

Christmas Eve

  • Have a nice dinner together

  • Go to church

  • Open one gift before bed

  • Sing Christmas songs

  • Wear Christmas pjs

Christmas Day

  • Begin day with breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, and fruit

  • Read the Bible Story

  • Pray together

  • Give the kids an ornament every year

  • Open gifts

  • Play

  • Visit family!

This post has turned out to be entirely all too long and I haven't even shared pictures from our Christmas yet! There may just have to be a part two.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Little Munchie

4 - Months old today.


2 - Eyes that stay locked on her brothers at all times when they're around.


12 - Hour sleeper at night. (Not every night!)


1 - Precious little mouth that breaks out in to smiles and giggles so easily.


3/6 - Size clothing.


4 - People in this family who are completely smitten with our sister and daughter!

We love you Adelyn!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Know You're a Mother of Toddlers When...

there's a toilet by your Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We're Not Talking Trash

A couple of months ago I was talking with the boys about their upcoming birthday. We were talking about how they would be turning 2, how they would have a birthday party, how they would have a birthday cake and candles to blow out.

I asked them what kind of birthday cake they would like and Grayson said, "Gahbage tuck." Ethan chimed in after him, "Gahbage tuck. Gahbage tuck!" So...hence, a theme was born! A garbage truck birthday it was!
We had a nice time with some of Chris's family here to celebrate. I was sad that snow kept my Dad from being here for it, which he was planning to do. Next year when we are living in Minnesota near my family they should all be able to be a part of it. They were missed!

My friend Dana came over and gave me cake decorating lessons while we drank cocoa. She's a good teacher! I had so much fun decorating my first cake.

This is the boys seeing their cake for the first time. I made them shirts with their names and a garbage truck on them.

There is just something about the birthday song and glowing candles!

Tearing in to the gifts!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Our sons are now two years old.

e and g
I am no longer a mother of three children under the age of two.
e and g2
I can no longer cuddle Grayson like this and expect him to sit still (I still try!).
They no longer fit on my chest quite like this anymore either!
or squeeze their 35 pound bodies in to their car seats quite like their 5 pound bodies could!
Our home is now full.
Full of little boys who love to show how big they are (while holding their birthday candles).
Full of big boys in big bean bags that take up our entire living room floor.

Full of smiles and giggles that make this mama's heart burst.
Ethan Douglas and Grayson John -
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
My life has changed completely because of you.
You have brought so much in to our lives.
I am so proud of you.
Fiercely in love with you.
Incredibly blessed to be your Mommy.
Happy 2nd birthday precious children of mine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't You Ever Grow Up

I find myself at times thinking about how much easier life will be when my children are just a little bit older.

I often tell Chris "Well, when they are just a little bit older we can do so and so."

Sometimes I even find myself lost in a daydream of what life will be like when we no longer have to worry about diapers, naps, cutting up food, holding crying children....

And then I have moments when it hits me that life as we know it right now is changing much too quickly. I will soon look back and all of those things that I had only dreamt of will be a reality.

I can not believe that my baby boys, my tiny five pound babies, my firstborn sons, will be turning two tomorrow. How is that even possible?

Tonight as I fed Adelyn before bed, I sat her up to burp her and she was leaning forward resting on my hand. Her little tired head was resting against my chest, and I just buried my face in the back of her neck, kissed it, and just tried to stop and remember what that moment felt like. A quiet house, a dimly lit bedroom, the little warm body of my daughter nestled on my lap.

I always think I won't forget what moments like that felt like.
That we will have countless more evenings and feedings just like that.

But the truth is it goes by so quickly.

I truly don't want to miss anything due to being preoccupied, hurried, exhausted, or absent.

I really wish I could just freeze time.

I am so looking forward to this Christmas when Chris is home for a week and a half with us.

I just want to soak it up.

Soak it in.

Why do they have to grow up?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Such Concern

I know this picture is so blurry, but I loved this moment and just had to put it on here! (Grayson and Daddy)
Yesterday at lunch Ethan began coughing and choking on a bite of broccoli. His concerned brother Grayson, patted his OWN back and said "You're otay."

Angelic Grayson :)
Then, after lunch, Ethan asked me to "hold you mommy." I told him I couldn't at that moment because I was cleaning up lunch, but instead perhaps he could ask Grayson to hold him instead and they could go cuddle on the couch together. Grayson scrambled out of his chair, ran to the couch, opened up his arms, and sat there smiling and waiting for his brother to come cuddle! Ethan did it too! It then turned in to a game of Ethan yelling out "Hold you Gaysen" and then he would try and hug Grayson while Grayson would squeal and run away laughing. They chased up and down the hallway and in and out of the bedrooms. "Hold you Gaysen, Hold you Gaysen!"

The boys also are VERY interested in the Christmas Tree this year. They love it. We have made a rule that they are not allowed to touch it, because I can just see the chaos that could be unleashed if they are given free reign over it! So instead the boys walk around the tree as close as they possibly can be without actually touching it! They put their hands behind their back, their noses kissing the tree, and then they sing "Oh Tismas Tree, Oh Tismas Tree. La la lee lar or banches!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not So Much

Today Chris asked me if I had any clothes that I needed him to take to the dry cleaners along with some of his work clothes.

I just laughed.

My sweatpants, blue jeans, and sweatshirts aren't too difficult to launder last I checked. :)

We've Got Ourselves a Giggler!

This past Saturday my sister-in-law Renee, along with my niece Jessica and nephew Zachary met up with the kids and I at the children's museum. Renee was holding Adelyn and all of a sudden I heard this loud giggle. I spun around and looked at Renee in astonishment. Adelyn was giggling! She kept doing it for Renee, but I still have yet to get her to giggle for me! Renee has the special touch I guess! I told her that Adelyn was probably just laughing AT her, not FOR her. :)

It was the best sound ever! I'm going to keep working on it from this end!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Playing Around

My blog was in need of a little change. Adelyn's picture on my title was an ultrasound pic for Peter, Paul, and Mary's sake!

The little black bird may not stay long. I really want to do a Christmasy (How in the world do you spell that word?? Is that even a word?) one, but I just can't get one to turn out the way I like quite the black bird it is for now.

It's clean. Fresh. I like it. Doesn't really fit with Baby Jesus, winter, or even Santa Claus for that matter...but ya do what you gotta do. :)

The Calm

May I never take for granted the way that life is at this moment.

How often do I find troubles in my life?

How often do I face problems that I feel are insurmountable?

Tonight as I was preparing dinner, (Chris is out of town) Adelyn was in her bouncy seat on the kitchen table sucking loudly on the sleeve of her shirt, Ethan had his little arms wrapped around my leg saying "Hold you Mommy - hold you", and Grayson was frantically pointing to the little mouse on our Christmas countdown calendar saying "Mouse Mommy! Mouse Mommy! Mouse Mommy! Mouse Mommy!", and I was overcome with the reality of just how blessed I am in this moment.

I have recently witnessed close friends suffer through some tragic circumstances in their lives.

I have been reminded of the frailty and uncertainty of life.

I have been reminded to not let my little problems become mountains.

But instead to savor these days when my children are healthy and here with me.
These days when I have a warm shelter to call my home.
These days when I look in my full pantry and have the "burden" of deciding what to make for dinner.
These days when I have a husband who loves me.
These days when I have two living parents.
These days when Christmas presents are piling up waiting to be wrapped.

I was overcome with emotion this evening as I looked at my life through different eyes.

I then took each one of my children in my arms, I put my lips to their cheek, I wrapped my arms around their tiny, warm little bodies, and I lingered for as long as I possibly could.

May I never take the calm for granted.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bathing Adelyn...

is a family adventure! The boys LOVE to pull the kitchen chairs over to the sink, hop up next to me, and "watch" Adelyn get her bath.

Can you even fathom 23 month old boys NOT playing in the water when it is right there in front of them? It just seems like they are drawn to it!

By the time bath time was over yesterday the boys needed to be changed entirely, the kitchen floor needed to be mopped, and I wiped water off all the cupboard doors in a 6 foot radius!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

The day that we stop our hustle and bustle.
The day that we meditate on all that we are surrounded by and have been blessed with.
I am overwhelmed today as I do that.
I am undeserving. So completely undeserving of every.single.thing that I am grateful for.
My husband.
My children.
My family.
My friends.
My home.
Our possessions.
Our health.
Food in our cupboards.
Some friends of ours from church lost their 21 year old son in a hiking accident this past Monday. I have been in tears so frequently these past couple of days as I think about his parents and his brother who now have to cope with this new world without him.
It has made me once again realize the frailty of life, and once again gain a new perspective about what is really important and what really matters in this life that we've been given.
I hug my children tighter today. I kiss them often. I sit and hold them instead of tackling the list of chores that sits on my counter. I rejoice in their smiles, giggles, and kisses.
I savor the long hugs from my husband and enjoy the warmth of his arms and the gift of his companionship.
I think about all of the people in my life that I am blessed to know. People to love. People that love me.
Thank you Jesus for all that you have given to me. Completely undeserving am I, but I thank you.
Psalm 145
I will exalt you, my God the King;I will praise your name for ever and ever.

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty — and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

They tell of the power of your awesome works — and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,slow to anger and rich in love.

The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 23: I'm Thankful For...

...Chris's parents.

Doug and Linda (Pop and MawMaw) are such incredible people.

I am blessed to call them my second mom and dad, and grandparents to our three children.

They are so good to us, to Ethan, Grayson, and Adelyn, and to so many others that surround them and are blessed to know them.

I have truly been so fortunate to have them be a part of my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 22: I'm Thankful For... daughter (who I can dress up in outfits her Mama wore!)

Adelyn at 2 months

Me at 2 months

Me at 3 months

Adelyn at nearly 3 months

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 21: I'm Thankful For...

...incredible parents.

I have seriously been blessed with two of the most incredible people to call Mom and Dad and I am so thankful for them, their guidance, and their love in my life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20: I'm Thankful For...

...quiet Saturdays spent at home together.

I love days where there is no agenda, no where we have to be, no where we have to go.

Often times growing up we had completely quiet Saturdays spent at home together with my parents and brothers. I grew to love being home with my family on the weekends, just playing, relaxing, and spending quality time together.

It remains true to this day. I love being home and truly just soaking up this time. I hope to pass those same feelings on to my children.

Day 19: I'm Thankful For...

(whoops! Late on this one!)

...this time of year.

I love Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the time in between!

There is just something about this time of year that is so cozy and comforting. I love transforming our home, playing Christmas music, do some Christmas baking, and just enjoy making memories with my family and friends.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 17: I'm Thankful For... friendships.

When I think back over the years of my life and the people I have met - I have been so very blessed. I have had many friendships that have come and gone. Some that have lasted just for a season, and looking back now I realize what a gift they were to me during that time.

I think back to some of my very first friends (besides my brothers of course!). I truly had my first best friend in 1st grade. Her name was April. We became fast friends and loved spending time together. It was hard on both of us when I moved away after third grade. We kept in touch for a couple years after I moved, but eventually lost touch. We, in just the past few years, have reconnected over Facebook again!

My cousins Ann and Lia were also two of my very best friends growing up. They were, and still are, very very special people in my life. We were inseparable and I have so many incredible memories of our lives together. They both shared the role of maid-of-honor in our wedding.

And since that time of childhood I have made and kept some pretty awesome friendships from college, and now many dear people through my work, church, and just life!

There was a time in my life where I really struggled with wanting every single friendship of mine to be a deep and meaningful friendship. I wanted everyone to be my very best friend and put all that I had in to trying to make sure everyone was! Whew! It was exhausting....and completely impossible!

A couple of years ago I read the book "Captivating" and I remember the author talking about how friendships were like a target. The center of the target is very small - this is like your very dear and best friendships. She said that it is truly not even possible to have more than 1, 2, or at the most 3 extremely close friendships. From there the levels of friendships continue to go out. You have some friendships that are close, but perhaps just not on that extremely deep level. At the largest point on the target you have friendships that are more like acquaintances. You may be pretty comfortable with them. They may know about your family, your hobbies, your personality, you may laugh with them...but they may not really know you, or you them, at that deep level.

This was so freeing for me to read! I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders when I could just rest and enjoy where my friendships were. I didn't have to try so hard to have 535 best friends! :) I have always said that the friendships that I love are those that don't require a lot of work. By that I mean those people that you don't talk to for a few days, weeks, or months at a time - but yet when you do reconnect it's like no time was ever lost. You don't feel this pressure of having to call daily or the friendship will waiver. That has been a blessing with so many in my life.

As a mother now I just don't have the time either to invest in friendships like I used to. I'm not able to go out for lunch, dinner, or a movie as frequently as I once was. However, I am thankful for those in my life that understand that and those that are in the same boat as me! I am also so thankful for those opportunities that do arise now when I do get to sneak out of the house and have that time for myself. It is so good for me!

The friendships I have are so refreshing to my soul. Friendships that help me to clear my head and keep me focused on the things that really matter.

I am so thankful for all of you in my life dear friends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16: I'm Thankful For...

...our church and church family.

We have been members for over five years now and we l.o.v.e. our church. It is sad that we will soon be moving away from here and will need to find a new place to call our church home. I truly hope and pray that we can find a place that is so full of life and love as this one.

We have met many amazing people over these past few years - many that will be friends for life.

We have changed and grown a lot since first stepping through those doors.

I do regret that since having children our involvement has cut back significantly, but physically it is just hard to do much more with three small children and living a half hour away.

I know that whenever we come back and visit this area we will be visitors back there again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 15: I'm Thankful For...

...the fact that a month from today our little miracle babies will be turning 2!

I find it so astonishing to see them already at this age. Growing, changing, forming right before our eyes.

Our lives will never be the same after these two precious little boys came in to our world.

I am over the moon, completely crazy, enamoured, astounded, in awe, and smitten with my two little mini men.

Thankful just doesn't even describe it.


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