Sunday, December 30, 2007

Picture Card "Wall of Fame"

This is my second annual picture card "Wall of Fame." My sister gave me the idea last year to use thick ribbon hanging on the wall and attach all my picture cards.

I know the picture I took didn't come out real well. Sorry about that. This is in my kitchen.... yes, my kitchen is red!

Last year I left it up all year long. I figure that our friends and family put time, effort, and money into their Christmas cards so I might as well keep them up for awhile. I love looking at them everyday!

Christmas celebration #4

Last night, we had another Christmas celebration with Mary and Jeff (my sister and BIL). They came up yesterday and are staying through New Years. We had a great dinner at my parents' house and gave Mary and Jeff their gifts.

J.T. was soooo excited about the tool set we got for Uncle Jeff. (In fact, I think he spilled the beans at Thanksgiving that we were getting Jeff one for Christmas.... thank goodness, Jeff forgot or didn't hear him say that!). I actually think it's really great that the kids were so excited about giving a gift, rather than just getting one.

The kids got to open a couple gifts too. They both got a couple books from Ma and Papa. J.T. got a fun Policeman book and Abigail got a cool coloring set from Auntie Barb and Uncle Bill! They also got these car travel neck pillows from us. They were being silly and wouldn't let me get a good picture of them!

Mary and Jeff exchanged gifts with our parents too. Here is my mom (with my dad looking on) opening her kitchen gadget gift.... lots of good, fun stuff in there (some things needed replacing after 36 years of marriage)!

My kids sure love their Auntie Mary and Uncle Jeff. They get so excited when they come visit!

Christmas was like the Energizer bunny this year.... it kept going and going and going..... We are very blessed to have so much family to celebrate with!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

All the time...

"Oh, could we keep the Christmas thrill,
The goad of gladness and good-will,
The lift of laughter and the touch
Of kindled hands that utter much,
Not once a year, but all the time,
The melody of hearts in chime,
The impulse beautiful and kind,
Of soul to soul and mind to mind
That swings the world
And brings the world
On one great day of all the year."
-Angela Morgan

Christmas Day

We had a great Christmas Day! Everyone was healthy and we were very happy about that. There have been many Christmases where that wasn't the case. Abigail got up around 7:15 and J.T. came out around 7:30. We waited a few minutes for my parents to arrive. Then we all went into the living room to see if Santa had been there. Indeed he had! He actually made quite a mess with the ashes coming out of the wood stove.

Abigail and J.T. each received a portable DVD player to take with us on trips in the truck. They got a couple of DVDs too: "Madagascar" and "Happy Feet."

Here's Papa Walt and J.T. with a new little tractor that J.T. can take to Ma and Papa's house....

The kids each received a couple of books from my parents which were signed by the books' authors. Here's Abigail and Papa Walt reading one of the books.

We took a little break in the middle of the day to rest and have some quiet time.

In the evening, Andy's mom and step-dad and my parents came over. Abigail was very excited to get this horse, "Jackson", to go with her American Girl doll, "Nicki", that she got the night before. She also received some outfits for Nicki from Andy's parents.

J.T. got an old-fashioned barn and grain silo, plus some animals and tractors to go with it. He really liked it, even though you can't tell in this picture.

I did something I don't usually do.... I passed my camera to Andy so there is actually proof that I was here for Christmastime.

For J.T., this year, it was very much a John Deere Christmas. I think 75% of things he received were John Deere (wall clock, bed sheets, sweatshirts, light switch cover, boots, socks, night light, tractor carrying case, wind-sock, stocking cap, hat, etc). Andy also got a couple of John Deere things.... one was this stepping stone.

I received a bag full of goodies from Andy's parents, including my favorite Victoria Secret Heavenly perfume and lotion, socks, a candle, a beautiful Silpada pendant, and more.

Here's my gift from Andy: a new telephoto zoom lens! I haven't had time to get outside and try it out because it's been cold and/or raining, but I hope to try it out over the next week or so. Also, this picture doesn't show it very well, but my other gift from Andy was a bench that he made (actually he just gave me this big board on Christmas morning but then he built it in the afternoon). I wanted it to use for taking pictures of the kids outside. I plan to paint it red.

My parents got me this really cool photo backpack to carry all my gear! My other favorites from my parents were a gift certificate to my favorite jeans store and one to get a pedicure!

We had a wonderful Christmas with our families. I am so thankful that we were all healthy and were able to be home on Christmas Day. I am also very thankful for all the fabulous gifts we all received from our families.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve

We've had a wonderful Christmas celebration with our families so far. We have more celebrating to do tonight but I wanted to do a quick post with a few pictures. Last night we went to Christmas Eve Mass. It is called the "Childrens' Mass" because they like to get the kids involved. Abigail's CCD class greeted everyone as they were entering the church and also did a "Drummer Boy" processional. Instead of a sermon or homily, the Deacon called all the kids up to the front to sit down and read them a story. We couldn't really see what the kids were doing because we were more than halfway back in the church. Towards the end of the story, J.T. stood up and was waving to us. Maybe you had to be there but it really was funny!

After Mass, we went to Andy's grandma's house. It is a tradition that each family has their picture taken in front of the Christmas tree. J.T. didn't want to look at the camera.... oh well!

We had a nice dinner with lots of great food! This year we all had a little surprise in store for us. As we were all finishing up dinner, Andy's Uncle Jerry stood up to make an announcement. He seemed nervous so I figured he was going to announce that he and his girlfriend Patty were engaged. Well.... he did do that, but then he told everyone that they were getting married right then and there with all of us to share in the excitement! Jerry asked me to take pictures so here are a couple of the wedding.

We all got to celebrate with a champagne toast after the ceremony. Congrats to Jerry, Patty and their kids!

And then it was on to Christmas! Santa came last night and J.T. got tools and a tool box. I can't remember the last time I have seen him so excited!

Abigail received an American Girl doll named Nicki. She's a cowgirl complete with boots!

J.T.'s tool set even came with safety goggles.... safety first! (I am not quite sure what this goofy look on his face is...)

We didn't get home until 10:30 or 11. As soon as the kids got their pajamas on, it was time to set out a snack for Santa and his reindeer (i.e. the carrots and reindeer food). He must have needed it because this morning , everything was gone!

I will post more about Christmas day later.....

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

As I finish my final Christmas preparations, I wanted to wish all my family and friends a very Merry Christmas! Tonight we will be attending Christmas Eve Mass and then going to Andy's Grandma's house for dinner and gifts.

The kids are resting right now (at my insistence) since we will probably be up late tonight. Here are a few pictures I took a couple weeks ago of my little goofballs!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Remember to enjoy the time with your family and friends! Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Family progressive dinner

Last night we had the annual progressive dinner with Andy's mom's family. We went to three different houses for appetizers, main course and dessert. Andy's mom's was the dessert course. We also played bingo there so the kids really liked that.

We always take a family picture in front of the Christmas tree. Here we are with Pam and Charlie (Andy's mom and stepdad).

And the four of us... not a bad picture actually!

Andy and Abigail....

Abigail and I..... very rarely am I in a picture so it's good to show that I exist (other than behind the camera!).

Christmas activities at school

This has been a busy week for Christmas activities at Abigail's school. On Thursday evening, they had their winter concert..... I guess it's not politically correct to say Christmas program or concert. We will save that discussion for another day. Anyway, here are some of the girls in Abigail's class waiting for the program to start.

Abigail was excited about the concert, but she gets shy when she gets on stage.

On Friday, Abigail's class had some fun activities in the morning. One of the things they were able to do was decorate a cookie. Here's Abigail's cookie.... do you notice she didn't spare any frosting or sprinkles?

Mmmmm, good, huh Abigail?

You probably noticed that I don't have any pictures of J.T. at his school activities.... that is because he has been under the weather with a stomach bug since Wednesday. Unfortunately he missed all the Christmas festivities at his school, including a hay ride with Santa and a pajama party. He was disappointed, of course, but seems to be handling it pretty well. We just want to get him better by Christmas, at this point! (And hope that none of the rest of us get it!). Keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Albin Early Christmas Celebration

Last night we had our Christmas celebration with Chet and Karen (Andy's dad and step-mom). We had a pizza and salad dinner first. Then we exchanged our Christmas gifts with them.

J.T. was kind-of being a stinker (I don't think he was feeling very well) during dinner, but he perked up a little bit when it was time to open gifts...

Abigail got some new flannel pink princess pajamas.

Here's at the end of the evening.... showing off some of the gifts.

Every year, we do this early celebration a week or two before Christmas. It's nice to have time to relax and enjoy our celebration before the real craziness begins! We all received some very nice gifts. Karen had a theme for all of our gifts... "Family Time." We received some gift cards for lots of fun activities, DVDs, treats, and more. We also received some individual gifts.

Andy is excited about his "Power Station" which has an air compressor, can jump start a battery, and is a power inverter. I loved all the goodies we got, but my favorite gift is a gift certificate to my favorite Spa..... pedicure or massage here I come!

One of the gifts we gave Chet and Karen (which I do every year) is a calendar. Each month has a different picture that I took. Here's a quick slideshow of the photos I used for all 12 months.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas letters and cards

This time of year there is a lot of debate about whether it's a bad idea to send out a Christmas letter. I have done one for the past few years and I just have to say that I really LOVE getting them in the mail from our family and friends. Maybe I am in the minority, I don't know.

I do know that some families go overboard on bragging about their kids or telling you about things you don't really care about. I really hope that I don't do that in mine. Some people argue that people receiving your letter should already know about what is happening in your lives. Yes and no. There are some people (mainly college friends) that we only communicate with once a year, at Christmas time, and they may not know everything that has happened with our family during the year.

I love to hear about everyone's kids and families. So keep the Christmas letters comin', I say!

Lighted Tractor Parade

Last night we went over to Ferndale for their annual Lighted Tractor Parade. The kids seemed to enjoy it. I took a few pictures (between raindrops) so I thought I would share some.

Here's one of the kids' favorites...

Here's Santa's sleigh filled with Mrs. Claus and some elves. I am not quite sure where Santa is.... maybe he was driving the tractor that pulled the sleigh...

Here's another good one. Most of these looked much better in person than they do in the photo. This was one of those....

This was one of my favorites....

The kids had a good time and the weather wasn't too bad. It sprinkled a little but at least it wasn't super cold like it was last year.

Girly girls!

On Saturday evening, Abigail went to a pajama party for her friend Hannah's 6th birthday party. It was a like a sleepover without the overnight part. The girls played, watched a movie, had popcorn, made their own mini pizzas, and had lots of fun. There were no boys allowed! Here's all the girls getting ready to watch the movie....

Hannah loves "High School Musical" stuff so Abigail gave her this HSM bag with pencils, a notebook, stickers, etc inside. Each girl got to help Hannah open the gift they brought for her. Here's Hannah and Abigail....

The party went well. They all got along which is amazing! There weren't any tears so that is a good thing!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

'Tis the season

I haven't been blogging as often as I would like lately. It seems like whenever I have them time, I can't think of anything to write about. And when I can think of things, there just isn't time.

For the most part, I feel like I am almost ready for Christmas. Other than waiting for a couple things to arrive that I ordered, I have all the gift shopping done. I even have most everything wrapped. I did a little baking today and that was kind-of fun. After tomorrow, the kids have one week of school left before vacation.

The promise of Santa coming on Christmas Eve doesn't seem to be inspiring good behavior however. From what I have heard from other parents, though, it seems to be a worldwide problem. My friend Christina told me about a website,, where the kids can answer a few questions and it will tell them whether they are on Santa's "naughty" or "nice" list. I haven't showed the kids this website yet, but I think I need to. Maybe it will give some inspiration for listening, telling the truth, getting along with your sibling, etc.

We have a lot coming up in the next 10 days: a birthday party for Abigail's friend Hannah, the lighted Tractor Parade, our Christmas celebration with Chet and Karen (Andy's dad and step-mom), Abigail's Christmas program, J.T.'s school's hayride with Santa, Andy's family's progressive dinner.... and this is all before we get to Christmas Eve!

I will hopefully get some pictures posted on here from all these fun activities.... Hope you are all enjoying getting ready for Christmas. Remember to take time to enjoy the activities with your families, and don't forget why we are celebrating this wonderful holiday: the birth of Jesus!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's fun to remember...

I thought it might be fun to show some pictures of the kids when we celebrated their first Christmases.... It really is hard to believe how fast time goes by.

Abigail's First Christmas

Abigail was about 3 1/2 months old for her first Christmas. Isn't she cute?

This was taken on Christmas Eve right before we left for church and Andy's Grandma's house.

This was taken on Christmas morning at Andy's mom's house. Abigail got both of these dolls from Santa. The one on the left, Lucy, is still one of her favorites.

We hosted Christmas dinner at our house. It's tough being a baby at Christmas...

It's been seven years since we celebrated Abigail's first Christmas. Time sure flies...