Friday, December 31, 2010

Picture of the Day, Weeks 51 & 52

We're closing out 2010 with the last two weeks of our POTDs for the year. This has been an amazing project and a wonderful album for me to complete. So many memories captured and recorded to cherish forever. So many details that we would have otherwise forgotten but are so important as they make us who we are right now. It's all a part of our lives, and therefore worth remembering.

I hope you've enjoyed this project along with me. Maybe you'd like to do the same in 2011??? I know we are! :)

It didn't take us long to make a considerable dent in the Christmas cookies we made last week. Because my hips don't need another batch, I tucked a few in the freezer to save for Santa.

Brad plays dartball on Monday nights with the men from church. It's a cross between darts and baseball. This is the dartboard, with bases, out zones, and the scoreboard.

We continue to struggle with Drew at dinner time. It doesn't seem to matter what we're having (unless it's PB&J) he argues and whines and complains about the meal. Tonight, however, something clicked - he dove right into eating and had it snarfed down before Brad did! Maybe this trend will continue???

The boys are slowly starting to enjoy playing with each other. We picked up a cheap "game" at Walmart today and the boys set themselves up in the hall, shooting these discs back and forth. Reed even got Jingle the dog in on the fun!

The snow started falling late tonight, and continued for the next 24 hours. We ended up with about 6 or 7 inches, making for a beautiful white Christmas!

Setting out milk and cookies for Santa!

The aftermath!
We had a wonderful morning, opening gifts and enjoying our family.

Christmas in Pella with the Vander Waals.
The 10 grandkids.

Lauren, Ali, and DJ hung around at Grandma and Grandpa's house after everyone else went home. It was great to spend some extra time with them, and for the boys to get to know their cousins a little better. I love how this picture captures quality family time.

Tuesday {12.28.10}
I'm hoping to get some photos from Brad's mom to fill in for this day. We headed out for MN shortly after lunch, but spent the morning playing and chatting and continuing the fun from Monday with Brad's family.

The boys' first time sledding!
Papa, Brad, the boys, and I ventured out to Spring Lake Park, where we sledded for about an hour. It was a blast! Both boys had so much fun!

A casual, fun day playing with family at Grammy & Papa's house.

We celebrated Christmas with the Cliftons today. Lots of presents + lots of smiles + lots of love = lots of fun!

A Clifton Christmas

Our holiday vacation continued in Mankato, and when we arrived on Tuesday evening, there was three feet of snow on the ground. {Oh, how I miss Minnesota!} All that snow means just one thing - well, it probably means a lot of things, but for my little boys - it means sledding for the first time! Y.A.Y!

Papa, Brad, the boys and I went out on Wednesday morning to give the slopes a run, and we took along my dad's camera. Therefore, I have no pictures on hand of our snow adventures, but you had to know that it deserves its own post! So story and pictures to come.

The fun continued on Thursday, as my brothers and their families were coming and going throughout the day.

There was art

and games

and iPod activities

and snuggles

and ice cream making.

Friday the 31st was our day to celebrate Christmas.

Grammy delivered the stockings.

And it didn't take long for them to be emptied!

All the boys helped Grammy & Papa pass out the presents.

And then "let's open 'em!"

Oh the excitement that a really big present brings!

A flashlight/lantern from Justin, Mindy & Perry.

Just what we - ahem - HE wanted! (from Justin, Mindy & Perry)
{My mom had taped TS2 when it was on TV and Drew had already watched it numerous times during our stay. When he watched his new DVD later this day, he said, "This movie is broken; there's no commercials!" HA! This kid cracks me up...}

This was in the top 3 on Drew's wish list. As he was opening it, Brad said "I think you're gonna like it..." and as Drew caught glimpses of the box, he said "I think I do!!!!" (from Jeremy, Ashley, Avery & Addy)

YES! I'm finally off the hook for cooking dinner! Reed's got a new kitchen and food to go with it! Thanks, Grammy & Papa!

And sweet sweet Addy girl had the floor all to herself. She slept through the boys opening their gifts and woke in time to be the center of attention as she opened hers.

Doing magic tricks with Perry's new magic kit.

Seriously, if these two weren't cousins, there'd be a serious love connection here. Reed can't get enough of this girl!

Our celebration continued throughout the afternoon, as we ate ourselves into a sugar stupor. We then put Grammy & Papa in charge of our little ones and headed over to Jeremy & Ashley's to ring in the New Year with them and Justin & Mindy.

A great end to an absolutely perfect week of Christmas cheer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Vander Waal Christmas

We were in Pella with Brad's family from Christmas night through Tuesday, the 28th. Everyone (which includes 19 family members, 1 nephew's girlfriend, 1 niece's boyfriend, and 1 dog) gathered for lunch at the Pizza Ranch on Sunday, the 26th, before heading over to Bob & Marilyn's to open gifts. We always enjoy this time, when Brad's family is all together. We don't see his siblings often enough, and when we do, it's usually only one or two at a time. For all of us to be together is pretty special (and I think Brad's mom would agree with me). :)

The traditional Christmas portrait:
Grandma, Grandpa and their {10} grandchildren.

Ok, so Drew was pretty excited about opening presents. I mean, he's 3 - he should be excited. All the cousins exchange names at Thanksgiving, so here's Drew with his gift from Ali. Just look at the anticipation...

Ok now, zoom in on that expression. Uh, right. He's not at all impressed. As a matter of fact, he's totally disappointed! He actually cried. Yep, tears and everything. "Mama, I don't want this!" as he fell into my arms. What is it he opened? Exactly what I told Aunt Glenda to buy for him - walkie talkies! To Drew's credit, he didn't know what they were, and I think he was anticipating Toy Story or McQueen, like he always is.

And then when Reed opened this??? Oh.dear. I admit - it got bad for a second. But he opened more gifts (things he could identify and things that he wanted) and calmed down. And Aunt Glenda - he now knows how walkie talkies work. And he likes them. :)

After practicing the day before, Reed was a pro at tearing off that paper!

Charlie Coal the Grill from Grandma & Grandpa

See that smile? Sonic did that. And so did Grandma & Grandpa.

And then the rest of the day was filled with techie lessons for Drew from all of his cousins and their cell phones.

It's tradition that some kind of game playing occurs after we open gifts. I can't even tell you what they're playing, though. I was enjoying the quiet in the other room. :)

Reed crashed around 4 that afternoon, with help from cousin Elise...

...and the couch...

...and Grandpa, too.

Drew then got his turn to share with his cousins the advanced gaming technology that is the Leapster.

Alison, Lauren & DJ spent Sunday night with us at Brad's parent's house, and the girls then ended up staying until Tuesday. These next couple days were filled with hanging out with them, playing games, chatting, laughing, telling stories, and playing more games. (The girls even got to babysit for a little while when the four adults ran out to Walmart to check out the after Christmas sales.) With the big age difference between our boys and our nieces and nephews, it always means a lot when the older ones take it upon themselves to get to know the boys better. By the time we left on Tuesday, the boys were pretty good buds with Ali and Lauren.

Our biggest thanks and hugs to Grandma and Grandpa - for everything!