Monday, January 16, 2012

Blue Belts

Matthew and Lucas~~Blue Belts
Back in January, we set goals as a family.  One of Matthew and Lucas's goals was to earn two belts this year in karate.  They earned their orange belt in February....good goal, because they were already close to earning it.  Then, by the skin of their teeth, they earned their blue belt in December.

Matthew and Lucas testing
Lucas and Matthew testing
         They had to perform their katas, and also define and pronounce words in Japanese.  Honestly, I felt pretty proud of them {us} because for weeks leading up to this, we practiced those words a lot!  They were so nervous, and Lucas didn't think he would pass.  Let's be honest, practicing his words and katas at home didn't happen as frequently as Matthew's did.  No wonder he was nervous!  But, they passed, and now we have two blue belts.  
I think they're bored of answering questions!
Sensei tying on Matthew's blue belt
Lucas and Matthew practicing their kata.

Sensei removing Lucas's orange belt

Sensei presenting Lucas his blue belt.  They both look so proud!

Omi's 80th Birthday

Omi is Derrick's grandma from Germany.  She came over a long time ago, when she married Opa.  This fall, we celebrated her 80th birthday with a surprise Open House.  Cake, nuts, cards, punch....the perfect way to celebrate Omi!

Omi and her great grandchildren~~Skylar, AnnaMarire, Matthew, Lucas, and Natalie

Natalie and the Santa Hat

Matthew needed a Santa hat for the Cheermeister dress up day at school.  Since he was off playing, Natalie started wearing it.  She was so cute and photogenic!

Fall Fun at Grandma and Papa's

It's fun to have my parents living in the country.  Whenever we go there, or when they watch the kids for me, it's an adventure.  My parents  make sure they get plenty of fresh air and tractor time.  My dad bought the boys this riding mower awhile ago, and they just drive all over the fields and yard on it.  Now, they have a trailer on it, so they pull Natalie along.  

Matthew ready to drive.  

Lucas, Matthew, Natalie

Of course, the baby has to come, too.

Looking at the combine.  

Dad supervising while Matthew drives through the woods.

Mom, Lucas, and Natalie

Natalie helping Grandma Connie with the dishes.  

Thanksgiving 2011

This year's Thanksgiving was great.  We started off the day watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  We spent most of our time watching it in our bed...all five of us!  Then we started getting ready for the day.  First stop was the Hursts'.  We feasted on turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc.  It was all so wonderful.
Natalie with her Aunt Lindsey and Aunt Kristin
The second place was Aunt Cindy's house.  After we ate, the kids got to work on their gingerbread houses {which has slowly become a tradition now}.  Matthew made his look like a bull, Lucas decorated his very nicely, and Natalie got some help from Aunt Lindsey.  Before we knew it, we had three cute houses to use as a centerpiece on our kitchen table.

Natalie and Aunt Kristin

Lucas, Mae, Charlie, and Matthew working on their houses. 

Matthew with his house.  
Up close of Natalie's house

Lucas and his house

After we were done at Cindy's, Derrick and I dropped the kids off at the Hursts' to spend the night.  Yep, we went shopping.  We left straight from there, around 8:00 pm, and went to Michael's.  After Michael's, we got in line at Toys R Us.  We were in line for 2 and a half hours.  Crazy, I know.  But, we got what we wanted {the XBox w Kinect}, and almost all of our shopping done.  We headed home to sleep, then I went back out on Black Friday {around 9 a.m.} and it wasn't bad at all.  Actually, I accomplished a lot of shopping.  It was great!

Christmas 2011

Christmas was a whirlwind {like always} this year.  We had six Christmases, and they were all super fun.  The thing is, we are so close to all our family, which is a huge blessing.  I am so thankful that the kids can go and have Christmas with their grandparents and great grandparents...then we get to only drive 15 minutes back home and not get on a plane or drive hours in a car.
The first Christmas was with my family {the Carfreys} was at my Grandma's and then at our house.  We went to Grandma's for lunch and some gifts.  We had all chipped and got my grandma a new tv.  She was sooo excited.  She cried and laughed, and cried some more.  It was great.  Then, after Christmas we hosted my family here at our house.  The hit of the night was Natalie's scooter from Joey and Kristin and her princess tent from Lindsey and Ben.  She was so excited about both of those!  The boys got a tetherball set, their NERF Vortex guns, and marshmallow shooters {thanks to Lindsey and Ben for those....I'm STILL picking up marshmallows}.

The next Christmas was on Christmas Eve.
We had it at Derrick's grandparents' house.  We got there for lunch, and ate and visited until it was present time.  Since Omi had eye surgery right before Christmas, she made sure each of the kids had three gifts to open...and the adults go their gifts at a later Christmas celebration.  It was cool, because each of the kids got a game, some clothes, and a pair of pjs.  So fun!

 After the gifting was done, Natalie settled down to play Candyland with Auntie Devon and the older adults/kids settled in with their new games.  The boys got Jenga and Connect Four Launchers.  Both of those are really fun games!
Christmas Day was sort of a whirlwind.  We started with stockings before church, and cinnamon rolls.  They didn't turn out as great as I had hoped, but it was ok.  We opened stockings and the kids were perfectly happy with that.  Natalie didn't really get into the opening this year.  She just kind of wanted to play and hang out.  She was super excited about her Pooh Bear LEGOS in her stocking, and the boys were so content playing with their LEGO flashlights that it probably wouldn't have mattered if we didn't open any more gifts.
After church, we came home and changed.  Then, it was full fledged gift time.  The boys got skateboards, clothes, remote control cars, an XBOX 360 w Kinect {which we hid in the basement and did a "reveal" after we were all done upstairs}. They were so surprised and excited.  They were also excited about their whole series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  Which now, a few weeks later, Lucas is already on the fourth one.  They are absolutely devouring them.  Add in some DS games and LEGOS, and they were happy campers.
Derrick got me a new Mac computer {which I desperately needed}, some UGGS {he totally took the hint on those}, and some clothes and pjs.  I got him some PUMA shoes {he was so excited about those...too funny}, some clothes, and a back massager.  I also got him a new coat and a puffy vest.  Natalie's gifts were so fun, too.  We got her a play kitchen {score at OUAC earlier this fall}, some clothes, and a Cabbage Patch Doll.  Let me tell you, giving her that Cabbage Patch doll was so awesome.  It was a vintage I used to have...her birthday is 1983. Also, some Zhu Zhu pets, a runway for them, and tons of food for her kitchen.   It was so cool.
Later that night, after we had broken in the XBox, and my new computer was set up, we headed over to my Grandma Mae's.  We had dinner with my whole extended family, and the kids put on the Christmas story play.  My mom makes sure that the last few years, each kid has a part in the play and they perform it for the adults.  It's so cute, and the costumes she comes up with are extremely creative.  This year for a donkey, she used an Eeyore.  Yeah, that's how my mom thinks.


Then it was Christmas with the Hursts.  Talk about Christmas overload.  It's always so fun, though.  My mother in law did something very cute this year-she wrapped all the gifts in the same paper.  Their living room looked so fun....and full of gifts.  We ate all day/night.  We arrived around 1, and we were there until about 10.  We brought home some VERY tired, overstimulated children.  The best part was giving Daniel a laptop for Afghanistan and my father in law's reaction to his iPad.  He has wanted one for so long, and we finally got him one!  It was so cool.  He was beyond shocked!
The boys were excited about  some new LEGOS and their Beyblade arena.  My in laws also got everyone towels with their names on them, which were very cute and creative.  I was so thankful for the scrapbooking organizing stuff I got and my new mixer!  Yay!

We all got a laugh out of my mother in laws pajama jeans that she got.  Too funny.  She put them right on, and was happy the rest of the night!  Darragh took it upon herself to make everyone pillows or blankets from fleece.  Our pillows are really cute, and Natalie LOVES her blanket.

Wow, Christmas was busy this year.  Many years {like this one}, I feel like I don't get a relaxing two weeks off of school.  But when I look back, I'm so glad we have so many sweet families to share our holiday with.