Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I am a member of the The Moms Group of Monticello. We have special, secret "sisters" who we adopt throughout the whole year just to give notes of encouragement, fun gifts, etc. My first secret sis fell ill and had to leave the group so I was just assigned a new secret sister. She gave be a beautiful handmade picture frame with pics of my fam for Christmas ( and she probably doesn't even know yet that I'm a picture crazy lady). I was just expecting the regular card or small token gift to arrive at our next meeting in mid-January.
When the doorbell rang, i was surprised to see if was the flower shop delivering the most AMAZING flowers and champagne!!! Gerber Daisies and Blue Hydrangeas are my FAVORITE!!!!!!! The card said it was from my Secret Sister! I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! This moms group has been such a blessing in my life so far this year and I already feel like I receive special gifts each time I do something with the group. Getting spoiled by a stranger is really fun and I'm so very grateful!
Then, the mail came!!! The local newspaper came and on the front page was the story about my church and our efforts to gather items for soldiers in Afghanistan. I assisted in organizing the hundreds of thousands of donations that will be sent oversees over the next year. I was interviewed by the newspaper the last week of November and when the story didn't run at all in December, I had given up on the coverage. De Harton, the soldier from my church, will be even more overwhelmed to see the local coverage. SO many groups were involved in collecting and I'm forever grateful and blessed!
Then, Brian brought his new game of Monopoly because he knew the Bechtel/Houser men would love the challenge! My dad kicked everyone's butt! The stopped the game early so my parents and Dan and Jen could quick run over to the hotel and check in since it was getting dark and the roads had turned to ice. After a few spills in the driveway and cars and ditches ( luckily not our family), Dan and Jen made it back to Doris' but mom and dad didn't. They turned around and went back to the hotel as they didn't want to get stuck in a place that wouldn't be safe.
Then we opened gifts. The Bechtel/House family does Christmas even more uniquely. Instead of buying each person gifts or drawing names or doing a grab bag, we draw family names. You have $50 to spend and you can buy a family anything you want. THis year we had the Brad Houser Family. We got them a $50 giftcard to this amazing indoor playland in Cedar Rapids with bumper cars, wall climbing, bowling, food, etc. Auntie Doris had us this year. She got us some popcorn, two DVD's, a bottle of wine, and cash to go out to eat! The perfect gift for us. The rest of the family doesn't listen much when we say no gifts for the little ones- all we want is to be together. Alinia however gave Amara the coolest gift. A Groovy Doll. It's just a cotton rag doll in cool clothes but she found one on-line with the name AMARA!!! Amara can't appreciate it yet but she will later having such a unique name.
11 people slept over at Auntie Doris'. Alaric woke up the next morning and was ready to play. Taylor had on jammies with feet just like Alaric!
My cousin, Woody does the sweetest thing every year. Knowing that my cousin Brad, Dan, Bri, and my Dad are into unique beer, he goes out and buys 24 different beers and lets the guys battle it out to pick their very own 6 pack. Woody doesn't even drink beer so it's even more appreciated! HEre the guys are discussing who gets what. Even Alaric is giving orders.
Here are all the Houser/Bechtel kids (I'll put in paranthesis who they belong to)...from left Benjamin ( Woody), Taylor ( Woody), Samantha ( Woody), Veronica(Dan), Madison ( Brad), Alaric ( Katie), Braden ( Brad), Alinia (Woody), and Amara ( Katie)
Alaric and Amara took some sweet pics together after they opened their gifts. This special Christmas each year is always the best for the kids- the least overwhelming. They only get one or two gifts from each person- a savings bond and one other small thing. The kids have a great time and clean up is a cinch!
Here are the four generations of Fultons...Great Grandma Eleanor Fulton, Grandpa Bob Fulton, Dad Brian Fulton, and kids Alaric and Amara Fulton
Uncle Tommy, who pretends sometimes not to care about anything, was Alaric's favorite by far. When the rest of us were playing cards and not watching, he got down on the floor and played constantly with Alaric. He built Alaric an airplane and a truck with legos and was explaining all her did. Alaric was mezmorized!
Here are the kids before opening their stockings from Santa.
All Alaric had been asking from Santa was a tow truck. Good thing Santa found two and good thing Alaric likes small tow trucks! We could have ended Christmas there he was so happy!
But no- there was more to come. Last year, Brian and I began a new tradition that we love and truly believe has allowed us to stay centered to the important things at Christmas. Each person receives only three gifts on Christmas morning- representing the three gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus. One gift is purly selfish-something you think they would just love. Another is something to do at home that is geared towards that person. The final is something to do away from the home, geared towards that person. This takes the focus off of the material things and more on the time spent together and helps us keep our priorities and values in check during the holiday season.
I win this Christmas for sure. Have I told you lately that my husband is the most amazing, romantic, special, sweet man in the entire world- seriously!!!!!!
Well, Brian's wasn't nearly as awesome as mine or as creative but I think it was pretty great too. For his gift just for him, I gave him three things....A binder with clear pages to put all the recipes and ideas for meals he gets off line, a journal to keep track of his ideas and lists when making special meals, and a coupon to create his very own cookbook together over the next year with pictures, history, etc. His gift to do away from the house was a family day out with gift certificates to the local bowling alley, movie store, and DQ. His gift for home was a board game. I took Scatergories and turned it into Fultongories. Each list is related to our family. I printed new cards and paper with our pictures on it and personalized it just for him.
We headed to my parents house around 11:30 to feed the kids their lunch there and put them down for their naps. Here is Amara in her new stocking Grammy made.
The last gift of the night was to Grammy from Papa. Papa ( with Dan, Jen, Bri, and I) gave Grammy her own playhouse for the backyard for the kids to play in. Grammy started crying. No one expected that reaction. Her response..." I've always wanted a playhouse!" It was a perfect ending.
While we cleaned up and got ready for dinner before church, the kids enjoyed playing in the rubbermaid boxes we brought to bring everything home in. Isn't that just how it goes...they receive tons of gifts and they just want to play in the plastic boxes.
Then, as Bechtel Family tradition dictates...Grammy and Papa read The Night Before Christmas! Everyone made it through the whole story, even Mara. Grammy and Papa were beaming with pride.
Off to church we went. They all did great. Alaric just wanted to watch the people and V just wanted to sing the carols. Amara, two hours past her bedtime, rallied, and laughed throughout the whole thing. Our friend Laura has two foster kids ( Luna and Lucian) the same age as Alaric and Amara. Here they all are in the Christmas best!
Brian and I have already started our Spain fund in the hopes of getting there in a year from now but the time away from our special friends will be tough. The Boyds came down just for the afternoon on the 23rd and we had lunch out at Allerton where Brian was working. Alaric and Olivia ( Heather and Justin's one year old) had so much fun running through the mansion.
Mara, Brian, and Justin
From Santa, Amara got a baby doll and stroller that is also a walking toy.
Anita, Joe, and Sweet Amara!
December 21st we headed to Knoxville for Christmas #2-Nelson Family Christmas! As always it was WONDERFUL. We had so much fun. Girls and Boys Grab Bag Game was a hit but the real highlights were having Grandpa out of the hospital and in attendance, having Luke's girlfriend Kierstyn and Anita's boyfriend, Joe there for the first time, and a wonderful family prayer by Uncle Dan and Grandpa that left not a dry eye. What a blessing our family is!
Alaric has some Quality time with Great Gramps and shows him is snowman that makes everyone feel better.
Sorry for the two week delay in posts- the holidays put everything but the necessities on hold.
Amara loves sitting in her Bumbo on the counter while we cook, feed Alaric, work, clean, etc. Very accidently, Brian discovered her unique reaction to clapping....
Then, Alaric's hero- BOB THE BUILDER, inspired this song....
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Mara started sitting up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She's even cuter now and has so much more personality. That means she can use her highchair finally too!
SO, back to the sickness thing....I must update you on potty training. Alaric is fully potty trained with peeing but we've been struggling with the poops for weeks and weeks. He's been so constipated, it caused an impaction. He had to stay home from school one day because he was so impacted ( poop all backed up with loose poop coming out) we had to give him an enima ( doctor's orders). IT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!!!! I FELT LIKE A CHILD ABUSER!!!!! Alaric was a new man afterwards but it took me days to recover. Now, he's on a stool softener that causes super runny poops. We have had two to three big poops a day but his very first came at school in the form of a blow out- SO bad we got sent home from school with a "shame on you" for sending him to school on a laxative. So, we are trying to figure out a good balance with the stool softener. We keep him in a pull up instead of undies much of the time because of the poops. Our hope is after the new year things will settle down. For now, that seems like an eternity away!
So, good stuff and bad stuff all mixed together. 11 days til Christmas. It will all come together, it always does-right?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Amara couldn't participate so she dressed up and just looked pretty.
Alaric was a sheep
This year, our friends Clint and Tiffany Jackson surprised everyone with a special visit from Santa Claus! He was great. He came in and talked to all the kids. Then he took individual pics with each kid...
How cute is Alaric here? He loves St. Nick!
Amara....not so much!
We then tried to take a group pic of all the kids- didn't turn out as well as Thanksgiving.