Monday, December 31, 2012

Photo Dump (& Project Life 2013)

I don't know if you noticed (if you did...thanks!) but I kinda ceased posting our Project Life pictures.  For those of you that forgot, or didn't notice, or don't care (keepin' it real) this was my third year scrapbooking in the Project Life format.  That is, taking photographs of the here and now and documenting it in the here and now for an accurate reflection of what life is like, here and now.  It's an awesome system with beautiful products and I'm just as much in love with it now as I was in 2010 when I tackled it for the first time.

I have continued to take pictures.  And have continued to plan pages and work on making our album.  But...I totally lost track of my weekly routine of processing pictures, planning my pages, and posting them here, shortly after moving.  I spent much of the latter half of this year adjusting to everything *new* that it all just kinda fell apart.  Rest assured, I will have a complete album for this's just going to take a few late nights to complete the album.  

This, then, naturally flows into how I am going to tackle this much beloved Project Life for 2013.  In 2010 and 2011 I followed the picture-of-the-day format, and this year I changed my focus to looking at the week as a whole (as there are some days that warrant many pictures, and some that get none).  For 2013, I am going to loosen that grip even more and use a month by month lens for documenting our everyday life (for many reasons, none of which is of any importance to explain).  It is likely that I will still end up with four distinct weeks, but I need some flexibility in that.  What that means for the blog is that I am going to step away from the weekly Project Life posts I've been doing.  And that is primarily because I have found that I end up repeating myself quite a bit.  Between the Project Life posts, the other stories that I share here (which are printed into books at the end of the year), and the boys scrapbooks, many of the same stories are told over and over again.  Enough of that.  So, instead, I'll do a monthly photo dump of those pictures I'm including in our Project Life album that I haven't yet shared throughout the month.  

You follow?  No?  I'm still taking pictures.  I'm still doing Project Life.  We'll just leave it at that. :)

So sit back, relax, and take a look at a few of the photos that made it into the last quarter of Project Life 2012.  (In no particular order, because I can't keep three cameras and one app straight.)

Brad's usual routine after the boys are asleep for the night.
{I have big plans for this basement in 2013!}

Dreaming he's riding a roller coaster?  Or scoring a touchdown?

The boys' far.

Upon an invitation, Brad spent a Saturday in the early fall golfing at the very fancy schmancy golf club in town.  Like, 33 million dollar renovation schmancy.  

Our first non-family house guests: the Vrieze family, of course!

Brad comes home for lunch.  Reed pretends to hide.

Ummm...we have a lot of puzzles.  Like, a lot a lot.

Lego/puzzle/craft/etc table made by 100% recycled materials found here in our home.  Lovingly made by Brad.  It's awesome.

Another friendly invitation took Brad to Ann Arbor to see the Michigan/Iowa game.  It's good to know people. 

Couldn't reach the size I needed so I sent in the troops.
Oh yes I did.

I'm sure I've mentioned, but so worth mentioning again...our library is sweet!

Michigan has had some weird I-think-I'll-try-new-things-I-used-to-think-were-disgusting effect on Brad.  Within the first week of moving here, he ate peas, refried beans, and cherry pie.  This winter, he's been trying various coffees.  I haven't been able convince him these are fine culinary experiences, but apparently Michigan can.

I love our sweet dog.  But spending $200 for an annual check-up, ear infection, and a broken toenail isn't so sweet.

Photography by Reed.

Drew's school hosted their second Reading Promise night of the school year, and the students and their families were invited for dinner, books, and prizes.  The students were encouraged to wear their pajamas as it was catch-your-own-pancakes for dinner.  For real.  Like, stand behind the line, hold your plate, and they flipped pancakes to you.  It was crazy fun.

I've started meeting on Thursday afternoons with two friends for an hour of Bible study and book discussion.  Reed comes along and usually plays with my friend's son, who is the same age.  He couldn't make it this week, but this is how the two of them usually spend their time while the ladies are chatting.

Family movie night.

The kindergarten Christmas concert at Drew's school.  (He's in the top row, second from the right).

One of our fall projects: growing grass.  Reed insisted on helping water.  He's great moral support. :)

I guess he found the floor more comfortable than his bed.

Pants or no pants.  You can be a gamer either way.

Sometimes you just need to snuggle.

Those eyes!

Saturday morning.  Bonding.  On the bathroom floor.

Dance party.

Reed was prepping our Thanksgiving feast.

Celebrating Christmas

1,560 miles traveled.

27 and three quarters hours in the van.

34 states found playing the license plate game (including Hawaii!).

Countless episodes of Tom & Jerry, Charlie Brown, and Looney Tunes.

Approximately 4 days of on-again off-again fevers.  (Praise the Lord that Reed's fever never materialized into anything.  He only had a severely drippy nose, and chapped lips as a result of that.  So thankful for this!)

Endless dirty tissues.

Our "Dance" playlist on repeat...repeat...repeat...repeat...

(Only!) 6 pit stops.

2 servings of Culver's custard.

2 parents.  2 kids.  1 dog.

Priceless Christmas memories spent with our entire families.

(But let me tell's good to be home!)

We headed out of town bright and early on Christmas Eve morning.  And by "bright and early" I mean 8:30.  Because we're parents of small children and their sleep is numero uno preceding an extensive period of time wherein we are all trapped inside a moving vehicle.  We arranged the van like we did when we went on vacation this summer (except this time we had Luci), and we hit the road headed for Iowa.  We stopped along the way for lunch, gas, the potty, and, well... 

I think by now we're all very aware of our love for obsession with this place.  I mean seriously.  And it's pretty much required on road trips.  It's like fuel for the Mama's soul.  Not to mention her sanity.  Especially on lengthy road trips.  With children.  At Christmas time.

{Sidenote}:  I kid, but the boys truly are awesome travelers.  Sure there are complaints and squabbles and whining and aches and pains (mainly mine) and we won't even go into the little episode Reed had while we were coming home (Drew even said, "Mama, you've never been that mad."  Yeah, it was bad.)...but for a three and five year old, Drew and Reed were super.  We had our arsenal of snacks and movies and toys and activity books to keep them occupied, and when necessary, paused for either ice cream or another go-round of "We are never ever getting back together..." and we were golden.

We arrived at Brad's parents house that night around 6:30 and celebrated Christmas the next afternoon with his family.

Not a bad looking bunch.

And, as always, the boys' cousins totally loved on them, giving them so much time and attention.  Their cousins sat down with the boys and did puzzles and games and Drew's new Legos with them.  They allowed the boys to use their iPods and phones to play video games.  I love this.  {Now, I have to figure out a way to get one or two of them to come to our place next summer to do a bit of nannying.  That would be sweet.} :)

On Wednesday, we had the extra special treat of playing for a bit with what would be the boys' second cousins.  Or first cousins once removed.  Or something like that.  (I have no idea how all of that works.)  A few of Brad's cousins and their kids stopped by for a visit, and it was nice getting a chance to catch up and see each other.  It doesn't happen very often.  

Thursday morning we headed from Pella toward Minnesota via Des Moines.  After having breakfast with my aunt, we headed north and arrived at my parents' house late afternoon.  Justin, Mindy and Perry were already there, so the little boys began playing two seconds after gracing the front door with their presence.  You wouldn't know how infrequently they see each other for how well they play together.  It's pretty awesome.

When we left Midland, there was barely a trace of snow left on the ground.  We have yet to go sledding here this year.  Minnesota, however, very rarely disappoints and on Friday afternoon Dad and Justin took all four boys to the hill.

I hear it was a good time.  :)

We celebrated Christmas together Friday night...

...complete with presents, tons of food, and an extra late bedtime.  But totally worth it.  I love being with family. :)

We spent much of Saturday laying low, and enjoying each other and our new gifts.  That night we went and saw the lights at Sibley Park.  It's the first year they've decorated like this, and with over two million lights, it was pretty impressive.

Back on the road Sunday morning, aiming to make it home in one day's trip.  It is a 12 hour drive, should you not have to make lengthy stops along the way, so with small kids, it borders on 13 or more hours in travel time.  The first five hours were great because we were looking forward to this...

Like we were gonna pass this by!

We noticed on our first car trip to Midland (back in June) that the World's Largest Culver's was along our route, and boy oh boy, we were not going to pass up the opportunity to make this a definite stopping point along what will be our many travels back and forth along I-90!  It was significantly larger than most Culver's, but not like amusement park size.  Definitely cool for this butterburger lovin' family!

We only ended up having to pit stop twice, so we clocked an official travel time of 12 hours, 45 minutes.  That's a full day, folks.  And boy did my body feel it!  

We've made playing the license plate game a little tradition when we travel.  And traveling so far makes it such a worthwhile game to play.  Although, until the boys can read those license plates for themselves, I would say that I get a little more enjoyment out of it than they do.  It's still fun, and does make the time pass, especially when I'm the one driving!

(And we did spot Hawaii!  Once in a lifetime is probably all I can ask for for that one!)

Back home, with one day to spare before the end of the year.  And I'm sure it'll be filled with laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.