Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year

And 2009 comes to a close. What a year it's been.

In January we lost Grandma and Johnny A.

In February Adam lost his dad Pete and through that we were reminded of God's awesomeness.

In March we mourned 5 years that we have been without Ryan.

March also saw Chase's first haircut.

In April we moved out of an in-law suite and into a home.

In May Adam and I celebrated 5 years of marriage.

In July Adam changed jobs and I started one (working for the in-laws... happily might I add ;~)

In August we finally, after many impatient years, took the plunge and bought iPhones.

August also marked an entire year that we have lived in Hagerstown.

Also in August we went to Hershey Park, Adam turned 30, we spent a weekend visiting friends in Pittsburgh, we visited my Dad and Stacie in SF... (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 if you want to tie up an evening) and I turned 31 (*gasp*).

Whew, August was a busy month.

October 5th marked 13 years sober for Adam

I also met and spent time with my birth father in October.

I raised $2,425 and completed the Breast Cancer 3-day... every single step of the 60 miles. I also lost my sweet dear camera and all my precious pictures in the process.

October 19th we celebrated Chase's second birthday.

In November I mourned 5 years that I have been without my mom.

In December we watched as our son was old enough to place ornaments on the tree and countdown with the Advent calendar.

December also saw my dad making it out to Hagerstown to celebrate Christmas (unlike last year). Unfortunately it also saw him getting stuck in Baltimore over New Years because of MD's propensity for snow this year.

I've reconnected with several members of my family... and some connections are developing into friendships.

I've become more willing and adventurous when it comes to cooking... even seeking out and trying new recipes on my own!

I've watched Chase go from happy squeals and frustrated cries to full blown sentences. I've watched reason and concept fill his mind. I've watched him learn things right in front of my eyes.

I've discovered half a dozen local parks, been to the National zoo, swam (or at least waded) in a lake, played in a pool in our backyard, been to Port Discovery, had countless playdates, road-tripped many times to visit friends, watched Chase take his first swim lessons, been to an American Idol concert, enjoyed watching Chase love music class, sent out Christmas cards for the first year ever and even let play doh colors run together.

We've built and maintained a garden, celebrated the fourth of July on a boat, ridden on a train through Western MD, walked through a corn maze and watched as snow piled almost as tall as Chase. We've discovered that laughing and loving your best friend is the best marriage out there. I've learned that my life will never be dull with Adam and I will be laughing for the rest of my life.

I've watched 3 children turn 1, 11 children turn 2 and witnessed 7 loving families be blessed with beautiful healthy babies.

I've been shown God's grace and love over and over again this year.

2009 was full of ups and downs... as I am sure 2010 will be.

However, we are starting off with an up.

As of tomorrow Adam will officially be a partner at his law firm. There are no words to adequately describe how proud I am of him. With all that the job market threw at him, he has been patient and worked extremely hard. He definitely deserves this. It isn't without some fear but as we have done in the past, we are going to set aside the fear and put our faith in Jesus.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Day Con't

Once at the in laws house we commenced operation destroy the living room.

"I Justice"... yeah, this gift is all sorts of awesome.

The next 3 pictures are t-shirts that I picked out for the various family members:

The lone hold out in the family... sticking with his PC. I'll hold my tongue because I love him.

"I don't do Windows"... converted never to return... she's a mac now!

My dear sweet hubby... "i owned a mac before it was cool"... so very true...

Color me thrilled... hubby got me these Bear Paws. Once I got them weatherproofed and ready to wear, I haven't wanted to take them off. I could use them for slippers they are so warm and comfy. Don't be surprised if I wear these all winter long... I am in love.

Oh and the crock pot in the background... fantastic gift from the in laws. I've been wanting to make more meals in the crock pot but lacked the crock pot and the motivation... now I have both!

Hubby geeking out with his new magic mouse and external keyboard.

Bamma showing Chase the key ring photos I made for Sandy.

Random show of Chase and I opening a present because I wanted proof that I was there.

Elmo much?

New hat, new scarf, new glasses... I'm set for this weather!

Without a doubt one of Chase's favorite toys is the vacuum cleaner. At the mere mention of going to Jack's house he will start insisting that 'Chase play with the vacuum cleaner... yeah?' Anywhere we go that happens to have a vacuum cleaner... Chase is all over it. Not sure what the attraction is but whatever, as soon as he can handle the real thing, I'm handing it over.

Anyway, enter Grandpa and Bamma...

The boy couldn't be happier if he tried. He runs that thing all over the house.... now if only it actually vacuumed!

Christmas Day

What a fun morning. Grandpa and Bamma came over before Chase woke up so they could see him open his presents... of course Chase decided to sleep in a little!

Once he woke, he came out to a rather large and poorly wrapped Christmas present.

Even with the crappy wrapping, he loved it. In fact he has been asking to play with trains non-stop... usually demanding 'daddy sit down right here and play trains'. We're working on asking like a gentleman ;~)

A few pictures from the rest of the morning.

Smaller magnetic Thomas trains... which permanently reside in our 'car bag' for restaurants and other necessary distractions.

Opening his M and D puzzle (which no pieces to lose... YAY!).

Opening his very own self titled DVD.... starring none other than Chase Harper.

Watching one of the videos on his DVD (aka "DBDB")

After a ridiculously good breakfast made by Adam (baked apple french toast), we packed up and headed over to the in-laws house to finish our present opening extravaganza!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baby Gabriel is here!

I will post about Christmas but I just had to post this first...

My best friend Christine and her husband Greg welcomed baby Gabriel into the world.

He arrived calmly and peacefully on Monday December 21 (of which I thought he was scheduled to arrive on the 22nd... some friend I am... ) (Oh, and I was waiting for pictures before I posted about his birth)

Big brother Andrew showing some love

Just too precious for words.

I cannot wait to go visit... I want to kiss all over that beautiful newborn face!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Ornaments

Merry Christmas Eve All!

Unfortunately I realized I was getting sick yesterday... inevitable since Adam and Chase have been ill lately. Oh well... I'm still going to enjoy the holiday!

I thought I would share a few more ornaments that mean something to me.

I am pretty sure my mom's friend Terri got this for her many Christmas' ago. I think the story goes that Terri saw it in the store and immediately thought of mom... I think she thought it looked like mom, you know, as a compliment. I just love it because I can totally see where Terri was coming from.

I think I (or we) bought this for my dad a long time ago... and since we inherited most the ornaments, now it gets hung on our tree each year ;~) Computer wizard is a complete understatement but Computer God of the Universe is long and boarders on sacrilegious.

Let me start the next one by saying that I rarely find anything with Chase's name on it... Chase just isn't all that popular of a name. So a few weeks ago Adam, Chase and I were at Michaels and saw cute little snowglobe ornaments. Just for giggles I checked to see if they had Chase... sure enough there was a slot but alas they were out. I was disappointed... I finally found something with his name and I couldn't get it.

Fast forward to this past Friday at MOPS. I look in my secret sister gift and what do I see...

It's just a small little ornament but it brought the biggest smile to my face. And now it has a great story ;~)

Ok, back to relaxing with the family on this beautiful Christmas Eve. I hope everyone is having a good day and really taking time to enjoy this holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Party Central

Now I have never been involved in a cookie exchange and this year I had 2... Thursday and Friday of last week. That meant 130 some cookies in 2 days... I work well under pressure ;~)

Thursday was the cookie exchange with the moms... with Dannette hosting. Thanks again for that Dannette... I am sure we left you with plenty of cleaning!

First the kids sat down and decorated some sugar cookies... well not so much 'decorated' as 'pile additional sugar pieces on top of sugar cookies and stuff them in your mouth'... but lots of fun regardless!

It really is an art that takes much concentration.

After decorating cookies, while the kids were all playing, Laura glanced over to see this:

Chase had planted himself in front of Ryan and was showing him different toys... "dis yellow one"... "dis red one". So stinkin sweet!

And of course every party needs pizza!

Starting the exchange! So many ridiculously good cookies! Looks like Bennett was trying to get a jump on divvying up the cookies. (Bennett = Shelby's pregnant belly ;~)

Ahhh, my boy. He was walking around like this... drinking "poffee". I love him so much.

We had a really great time and between this party and Friday's, we have more Christmas cookies than we should ;~) And Chase and I may make more today!

As an aside.... we have watched Elmo's Christmas Countdown 674,974 times... easily. I am currently explaining to Chase that "Elmo's Christmas needs to take a break and rest"... which works for 2 minutes... then I hear "where Elmo's Christmas go?" And he just started singing "I believe, I believe" over and over again which happens to be the final song on the DVD. I think if he wanted to, he could recite the whole thing from start to finish.

Anyway, I say all this because at certain parts in the story the term "elfin" is used. As in "watch out for this elfin menace" or "I don't play those elfin games". Every time I hear it all I can think is "effin"... which makes me smile. Now I am not saying Sesame Street did it on purpose but either way, pretty freaking funny. And it makes the DVD just a little bit more tolerable.

Now if only I could get the song "I want a snuffleupagus for Christmas" out of my head.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's snow fun!

With snow comes a lot of opportunity to help your neighbor... not a bad thing in my book.

Sunday morning we got all bundled up and went out to check out the driveway/snow situation. We still had a good bit of snow on our driveway which someone with a snow blower decided to take care of for us. They easily saved us a few hours of shoveling. Of course, then we look across the street and an older gentleman was out attempting to free his driveway. So Adam heads over there to give him a hand. After freeing about 3/4 of it, another person with a snow blower comes along and takes care of the rest.

Then further down, an older woman was attempting to free her driveway. Unfortunately all the snow blowers had to head to other homes but Adam, Joyce (as we found out when we went over) and I managed to take care of the entire double driveway.

By the time we were done I don't think I could have handled shoveling any more snow... my back was screaming. Regardless it felt great to help someone out... especially someone who would have had a really tough time completing it on her own.

Chase was a dream the entire time we were helping the neighbors. He didn't like the snow all that much so he stayed on the shoveled area... basically he just walked back and forth to me and Adam chatting to whoever would listen.

Oh and for a while he looked like this:

He was clutching his 'payment' for helping the first gentleman out... a candy cane! He kept asking to open it.

A candy cane wouldn't have been my first choice... I rank that up there with lollipops. But I knew he meant it as a nice gesture.

I am not sure how much "Christmas-ier" you can get.

About 2 minutes after this picture was taken I realized Chase was biting off the end of the candy cane. So we traded... his candy cane for my cookie. Thankfully it worked!

Later that day we decided to go driving... just for the fun of it.

And we stumble across another opportunity to help. An older woman got her car stuck... so we pulled over to give her a hand... as did a policeman who happened to be driving by... as well as a fireman who lived in the house across the street.

Adam made the keen observation that this sounded like a set up to a joke... A lawyer, a policeman and a fireman all stop to help a woman push her car out of the snow....

I'm not sure I want to know the ending... lawyers always get the short end of that stick!

Anyway, all in all, a really fun day. I still have pictures to share from our awesome cookie party... and more ornaments from my tree!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Storm!

Ok, so I have tons of pictures and events that I have been wanting to share but before I do, I have to post about our snow storm!

When the weathermen started calling for inches of snow, I just smiled and thought to myself 'yeah right'. Then they kept at it... calling for more and more. Still... I doubted them (who doesn't). Then parties started being canceled... hmmm.... maybe?

Just in case I stopped at Walmart on the way home... we needed groceries anyway... especially if we were snowed in for a day or 2. And believe me, I only chose Walmart because I was running errands in that shopping center and didn't feel like going out of my way to hit an actual grocery store. Walmart the night before a huge snowstorm and 7 days before Christmas... not my idea of a good time. I went in with an attitude of 'whatever' and I think that served me well. I even let 2 people go in front of me in the checkout line.

So now we have groceries... snow boots for Chase (thanks to an early Christmas present from Bamma!)... and salt for the driveway. Bring on the snow.

Oh, it's been broughten.

This was around 11 am this morning and it was still snowing and snowing hard.

Chase hiding from the snow.

To say that he wasn't a fan is the understatement of the year. I think he would have enjoyed playing in the snow but the wind whipping and the snow pelting him in the face kinda of ruined it

Adam working hard to keep the driveway clear.

Chase had a lot more fun on the porch where he was protected from the wind. I think when the snow stops coming down we will have a lot more fun.

We did venture out... because we are insane. We packed up some wares and headed to the in-laws house.

It was fun to sit around and eat pizza together... it would have been more fun if Chase had napped. For 2 hours we took turns trying to get him to go down but nothing worked. He was just wound up and could not settle in.

That put a real damper on my day... when he doesn't nap, I don't rest.

We ended up going out for a ride in the Jeep... just to see the world covered in snow. It was fun but we ended it early due to the toddler. No amount of explaining that I couldn't give him his milk because it was back at the house worked. Apparently he thinks I am Houdini.

Here is a shot of my in-laws backyard.

This is around 4 or so... and it was still coming down.

Pretty unreal. Guess the weathermen were right... well, even a stopped watch is right twice a day... they were due.

We're back home now. Chase is soundly sleeping (shocker) and Adam and I are enjoying the fireplace and the sound of keys clacking.

Today was fun... an adventure of sorts.... but tomorrow.... we're staying home!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top Secret

So Chase and I are working on a top secret project for Daddy.

Hear that Honey?

Stop reading now.

I'm giving you plenty of chances to move on.

Just skip this post and go about your merry day.

Are you gone?

Don't ruin it for the boy.

Really I am just making sure there is enough room above the fold so you don't see pictures.

I love using the term above the fold. Makes me feel smart. I used to use terms like that all the time.

Now I say things like "Daddy be home soon" and "Elmo is taking a night night".

Sometimes change is ok.

*Ahem*... back to my post. I think we've taken up enough room.

Tuesday Chase and I broke out the paints and worked on a picture frame for Daddy.

I was so proud of myself... this is totally out of my comfort zone. All the set up... all the mess... all the clean up. I tend to just skip doing things if they aren't easy but I know as a SAHM, I need to work on this. Sometimes the most fun can happen over a big ole mess.

I think Chase had a lot of fun. I also think he will have more fun if we do it more often. He kind of gave me a sideways look as if to say 'what the heck do I do with this thing?'

But he caught on quick and really enjoyed himself.

I will post pictures of the finished product when Daddy opens it on Christmas morning!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Road Trip

Yesterday Chase and I headed to Annapolis to visit Aunt Christine and Andrew.

We had some presents to open! ... Well, the kids had some presents to open ;~)

Because Chase was the guest, he got to open first...

A spaghetti playdoh factory! Or as Chase calls it "Spa-betty". Chase was thrilled with this and wanted to open it immediately. I told him we should leave it in the box right now but that we would play with it when we got home... luckily he agreed!

It's the Elmo kitchen set! Hmm... this might spoil the surprise of one of Andrew's Christmas presents... I hope he doesn't figure it out ;~)

When they weren't pushing each other they could be found being cute like this...

What is it with boys and pushing??

Chase's newest cheesy grin...

this is what I got when I asked him to smile for me. Look at those cavernous dimples... I could get lost in there.

Chase was straight chillin on the way home. Falling asleep was a little harder without the paci but after a full morning of playing and no nap... around 3:15 he fell out. Around 3:16 the gas light came on.

You would think I would know better by now... but noooooo.

I really thought nap was a lost cause. I took the next possible exit and tried to get in and out as quickly as possible... what I ended up with was 5 gallons of gas. Why only 5 gallons? For a multitude of reasons... first because it took me 8 minutes to get those 5 gallons. Then there was the 'too big to be necessary' diesel truck that pulled up behind me... just waiting to use the pump right next to mine. Is it my fault that they make them so close together??? Plus the aforementioned sleeping (or in my mind screaming) toddler.

Slow gas pump, a diesel truck almost literally breathing down my neck and a cranky 2 year old... awesome.

I slid back into my drivers seat and check the rear view mirror... unbelievably he is completely passed out.

It didn't even make a dent in his nap. It's times like this that I know there is a God in heaven.

Then he proceeded to sleep for 55 minutes... a full 10 minutes longer than he has EVER slept in the car. Again, God in heaven people.

Not 3 minutes after we walked in the door Chase turned to me and said "Spa-betty play doh now?"

Memory like a steel trap.

So we brought out the playdoh and had tons of fun!

Orange noodles (or as Chase calls them 'new-newles').

Now there is something unprecedented going on in this next picture...

did you spot it?

There are 3 colors of playdoh open and being played with at the same time.

Step back everyone, this is me growing.

I kid but it does hurt a little to know that the colors won't be separate anymore... in their nice neat little tubs. But it's playdoh... it's cheap and dries out quickly. Why not throw caution to the wind and let the kid be a kid.

So our home now has mixed playdoh and it feels good.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Party

Last night was the first of a few Christmas parties this season and what a way to kick it off!

19 adults + 12 children + tons of great food + presents for the kiddos = a fantastic night.

Festive feet getting ready to head out.

Chase played with this vacuum almost the entire night... he is seriously obsessed. If it actually worked, Shelby would have the cleanest floors in the neighborhood.

Chase opening his present from Aiden... a Ernie potty book (a hit with Aiden) and Fearless Freddie (from the Thomas series). He was thrilled! Thanks Aiden!

If you remember last year we attempted a group shot of the kids only... and it barely worked. Well throughout the year it's only gotten more and more difficult. So we opted for a mom and kids group picture. Much (MUCH) less stressful and many more smiles. We're only missing Laura, Aiden and Emery and Bekah and Nickolas. Not too bad! BTW, I am holding Alexander who came with his daddy (mom Bekah was home on a date with her newest man, Nikolas).

The G family hamming it up... shocker.

Hope your Christmas season is going well!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some of my favorites

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas ornaments. I love them so much and I hate that no one gets to see them. So, to cure that, I am proudly displaying some of my favorites here.

Every year we (the family) get a new ornament and this was our 2007 one. I like looking at this one and seeing the addition of the Chase to our little family.

In the same vain, this is Chase's first ornament. This will be the one we give him to put on his own tree someday. The thought of it being on our tree for the next 20 some years and then eventually moving to his house with his family on their tree... well I could just start crying now.

Now I realize this isn't an ornament but it still has to be highlighted. 2004 was our worst Christmas. Ryan passed away in March and my mom passed away in November... jolly and cheerful we weren't. I was still living with my dad and both of us had no interest in getting a tree for our house in Baltimore. We were spending the holidays with my in-laws anyway, who needed a tree. Adam thought we did. He couldn't stand the thought of us not having something at our house, so he went out and bought this sweet little Charlie Brown tree from Nordstrom (my holy ground). We perched the tree on an end table and put our wrapped presents around the table legs. Pathetic but sweet.

Every year when I pull this tree out, I think about how sweet and generous Adam is and I can't wait to proudly display it.

Realizing that we would eventually have a real tree again, Adam and I really wanted to get ornaments to remember Ryan and mom.

This one is for Ryan (did that really need to be said ;~). To say he was an outdoorsman is the understatement of the year. The man lived and breathed nature and fishing was one of his favorite pastimes.

Quite obviously (I hope) this one is to remember my mom. Mom was the queen of all that is shopping and we definitely spent a lot of time in stores together.

So those are a few of my favorite ornaments (and decorations)... anyone care to share yours? Let me know if you do, I would love to check them out!