Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Advent - Week 4

I just wanted to finish up with a post about our last week of our Christmas Advent.  Again, keeping it real! 

Day 19 (Monday) - Monday was a crazy, busy day here in our house after a busy weekend so I did not have time to really gather supplies.  Besides, the boys had lots of new stuff to play with and were content with doing just that.  I had planned to read  "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" but instead, after paths, we watched it since I had recorded it earlier in the month.

Day 20 (Tuesday) - I planned NOTHING!  Josh and I were gone part of the day; then he went home with my husband and I finished up shopping. 

Day 21(Wednesday) Nothing again - it was a "Mom is working"day meaning I had so much stuff to get done that I told the boys I was "working" and they had to play on their own. 

Day 22 (Thursday) - We watched Charlie Brown Christmas - yes, that's all.

Day 23 (Friday) We celebrated Nate's birthday as a family since my husband was out of town yesterday and then we had a family party so it was already a busy day.

So. . .in reality, we didn't do our advent this week.  I need to plan better and less next year; and not drop the ball.  The boys still enjoyed it all though and we did try to do something special each day even if it wasn't what I planned! 

Merry Christmas :-)

Our Christmas Letter

As so many others have said, I wish I could send a card to each and every one of you that take time to read my little blog but, I can't so now that I've mailed out the 50+ cards that I DO send out, I wanted to share our Christmas letter with you!

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!  What a wonderful time of year to take a few moments and look back at the past 12 months and share it with each other.  Yes, I’m one of those people who love to take a few moments to write one of “these” letters but I also LOVE to read each one I receive.  I also so enjoy each Christmas card that is received – such a wonderful tradition to share with family and friends who are spread around the world. 

One of the big events of this year was the McMaster Family Reunion in July.  We had not had a reunion in 10 years so my dad and I, with the help of my mom and my brother, Ken put this one together.  It was so great to not only see our own family but to see so many cousins that we have not seen in years.  We had so much fun spending time with everyone and just catching up on what everyone is doing – many of us keep in touch via Facebook so to actually talk face-to-face was just icing on the cake.  Now, we can’t wait for the next one!

Josh and Nate are growing fast.  Josh turned three in October and is Mr. Independent.  He has two favorite sayings right now. .. “Josh can do it” and “Josh don’t like it”!!  (And, when he doesn’t like it, he lets us know!) It is fun to watch him play and create and also to watch him help with Nate whether it be “reading” him a book or making sure he gets where he needs to be. He loves trains, trucks, and planes but he also loves music.  He enjoyed our little garden this summer – picking “taters” (tomatoes), “Hots” (Jalapenos), “Yunions” (Onions) and “Bananas” (ummm Cucumbers!!) Every single day he would check to see if there was anything that was ready to pick.  I should add that he did pick the Yunions but he immediately threw them in the garbage!!  He has also discovered his “Popkits” (pockets) and loves to pick up rocks – sometimes I end up with pockets full of rocks too!  Josh moved to a big boy bed just before his birthday and he was beyond thrilled.  He LOVES to go to bed and get tucked under his blankets.   Nate will turn 2 on the 22nd of this month.  He is still our cuddle bear.  He loves to sit on our lap and be read too – we hear “read please” often and it is so cute to see him sitting on the floor “reading” a book out loud to himself.  It is amazing how much he remembers about the stories he has heard over and over again. He also loves to copy whatever his big brother does and enjoys when Josh lets him play trains J  (Notice I said “lets” HA!) It’s also fun though, to see Nate sit and play by himself, being creative. One thing that both boys enjoyed was going to the “Punkin Pach” this fall which was actually just a farmers market but they didn’t know!  The rest of the fall, even just one pumpkin was a “Punkin Pach” Ha!  We are truly enjoying the boys (even their “moments”) and love seeing them learn and grow.  They do enjoy playing together and watch out for each other too!

I am still not working and just hang out at home all day J In other words, I’m a stay at home mom.  Oh wait, I DO work, I babysit another little boy for a friend of mine WHEW and to think, I almost made you think I didn’t do anything all day J  Really, I work harder staying home then I ever did sitting in an office.  A 1, 2, and 3 year old are very demanding and not very patient some days but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We play, read, and I try to fit in a few learning activities along the way.  Last year, when I sent out our Christmas letter, Darryl has just been laid off from his job of 7 years.  He was able to drive Taxi full time which we were thankful for without a doubt.  In March, he was given the opportunity to go to school to get his CDL.  Due to his years of driving experience, he was able to take the express class and received his certificate after his 3 very long days of driving.  In April, he decided to apply at a company in Grand Rapids called S. Abraham and Sons not expecting to even hear from them.  He did receive a call the day after submitting his application on-line and 1 week later he was offered a job.  We were slightly dumbfounded – he had an interview on a Thursday morning and he didn’t feel too confident but just a few hours later he was called and offered a job which he started a week later.  It has not been without its challenges such as the 2 hour round trip commute from home on top of his 14 hour days.  One of the big changes for us is that Darryl has to travel into Wisconsin and to Chicago.    This is not our favorite part of the job but, on the other hand we are glad that most weeks, it is only 1 night and he is home on weekends.  The other learning curve was the hours – most of the routes start at 3:00 or 4:00 AM so, due to that drive time, he leaves homes in the middle of the night.  We are thankful, though, for the job that God has provided and look forward to eventually moving closer to his job which will help out a lot. 

We are thankful that Darryl has been able to continue to play with Alive.  When he took the new job, we were concerned that he would have to drop out but the group has worked well with him, his schedule, and his lack of time to get to practice so that he can continue to play.  It’s a great outlet for him and the boys LOVE to go and see him play too!  He also tries to squeeze in some time at home to record his original songs – something that he truly loves doing.  Besides keeping up with active boys, I still enjoy scrapbooking our family memories, writing my blog, and just overseeing the daily running of our home.

This year, we didn’t get to do as many family activities as we would have liked but we did take the boys to the Children’s Museum in Grand Rapids and they loved it.  I think they could have spent the entire day there – we look forward to taking them back.  As many of you know, we had a horribly hot, humid summer (in a house with no air  . .. it was hot!) so we took time to go back to a Splash Park we had visited last year but this year the boys could run through it themselves.  Well, they COULD have but they didn’t like the water . .. so they just played in the kiddy area instead.  J  Plus we managed one trip to Lake Michigan.  This was the first year that the boys could play in and enjoy the water.  Well, they would have if they would have wanted to get in it J HA!  Instead they sat on the shore and played in the sand the whole time while Darryl and I took turns walking out into the water to cool off!!  With that said, though, Josh often talks about going to the beach and he has already told us that he wants to go back next summer.  One weird moment – some strange lady came up to me and rubbed sun screen on my back.  Talk about awkward.  Wow.  Weird.  Yes, you can all stop laughing now – my husband even laughed while he watched and did NOTHING to help me! 

Last but not least, our animals.  China, our dog, has learned to love the boys and is now their biggest protector.  For the longest time, the boys could really care less about her J but just recently; Josh has become best friends with her.  He will lie on the floor and talk to her, face to face, or just stand and pet her.  Nate just tells her to move out of his way J .  Her new favorite place to sleep during the day is on Josh’s bed, as long as the boys aren’t playing in his room J  Misty is starting to show her age, which is hard to see.  She’s been “my” cat for 15 years and still loves to sit on my lap every night.  Stratocaster keeps to herself most days but still loves attention when she can get it. 

We are looking forward to some great upcoming events - our FULL family “McMaster” Christmas with everyone home (this only happens every 3-5 years!), two weddings – Darryl’s niece, Rachel is getting married in January and my niece, Alicia, is getting married in May, and we are hoping to get in a family vacation and a few camping outings too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Darryl, Jackie, Josh and Nate
China, Misty and Strat too!