Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas celebrations underway!

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we headed out to pick up Andrew at Ga Ga's and drive to Craig's parents for an early Christmas!
When I was growing up as an only child...this was what I envisioned Christmas looking like.  So many family members, kids and tons of presents to open!  This is what the Huegel family Christmas looks like!  I always knew I'd marry a man from a big family!  Ha!  It is so fun and there is never a dull moment.
I think Andrew's shirt is a misprint!
Andrew and Kerigan with their presents
I love this- cousin Brooke admiring Kerigan, and Auntie Darlene
This is blurry because I was laughing so hard.  But everyone else got these nicely wrapped presents with colored paper and bows... this was Craig's present!  (And don't you love the Elf in the background??  Ha!)  I just think this is so funny.  We do a gift exchange with Craig's siblings and his younger brother got his name.  I think one time he had my name he wrapped my present in a diaper box!  Ha!  At least the gift inside was nice! :)
The Huegel side of the family is growing... but these remain the only 3 boy cousins (out of 7, soon to be 8 grandkids).  They all got matching jammies from grandma.  Craig's sister is having a girl at the end of January!  All the cousins are so close in age and they all love each other so much and love playing together.  Andrew was so sad when it was bedtime he insisted on sleeping with Evie and Jayden!  Ha!
We had tons of good food and munchies... all the kids snacked before bed!
The next morning we woke up and got in our Christmas outfits for pictures and Craig's mom's side of the family had a huge Christmas celebration!  It is next to impossible to get a picture of this many kids looking at the camera.  This was the best we could do!  But they sure are cute! 
And if that wasn't hard enough, we decided to try the whole family in one!  Talk about impossible!  This was the best one with my camera, but there were about 16 cameras (not really)... but I think we got a good one on someone else's camera!
Much easier... just Grandpa and sweet granddaughter.
We all got together at a large hall so we could fit my mother in law's 9 brothers and sisters and all their families in one room!  Talk about tons of food and family fun!  Andrew was so darn sweet this day.  He is getting so good at puzzles lately.  He was just engrossed in this (when all the other kids were playing with play doh!)  He was so focused.  He'd look carefully at the box, then find the piece.  Aunt Joan helped him a little, but not very much!
I was so proud of his determination.  He normally would have given up, but he just kept at it until it was all done.  I learned later that his cousin Evie had wanted him to put it together for her, so when he was done he ran and got her and she came running to look and said "Good job, Andrew!" and gave him a big hug.  I could have cried it was so sweet.
These two are 4 days apart in age.  And the love is so amazing!  Andrew just adores her (and all his cousins).
After the Christmas, we added one more thing on the agenda for the evening!  A baby shower for Craig's sister!  Bring on more pink!
I decorated the tables with baby clothes wrapped in ribbon and headbands and bows!  What else??  Ha!
All of my wonderful sisters in law!  Love them! (Craig's sister in the middle...the rest of us are married to the brothers!)  So happy to be part of a big family and get the sisters I always wanted!
Back at grandmas on Sunday morning, more puzzles!
So sweet... Andrew looked up at me and said "no more pictures!"  It was so funny!  He was trying to concentrate and I was bugging him!  Ha!
This is what we did most of the time, and I just love this.  Everyone just hanging out, doing puzzles, chatting, snacking and being together.  This is what I always dreamed it would be like having a big family.  And it is just how I pictured it.  And I love it.

We had an awesome first Christmas.  I can't believe how fast the season is going already and it isn't even December yet!  But my plans are working out... by starting early, we have the decorations up, the outside lights up, one celebration behind us... now I'm ready to bake and shop and wrap my heart out!  It feels so good to get things crossed off the list!

(And yes, I make sure I check it twice!)

Thanks for a great weekend Mom and Dad Huegel!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

We've had such a busy weekend!  The break was so nice (even though I just went back to work... I was ready for a break!  Ha!)  School was out on Wednesday, so I had 3 days off and I loved every minute of it.  I kept the kids home from day care on Wednesday and we just hung out in our jammies and got some baking and wrapping done for our weekend.

On Thursday we went to my grandma's to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Our smiley girl enjoyed her first Thanksgiving... but I think she wanted to eat with the rest of us!  Ha!
She loves her Grandma Tootie!
Our day consisted of a lot of this... playing games with cousins,
Eating treats...
And opening our first present of the season- our annual ornaments from my grandma.  Every year she gives all the grandkids ornaments.  Kerigan got her first one- a lamb.
Andrew was excited about his too!  Woody and Buzz in a stocking.  He couldn't wait to get it home to hang it on the tree and add to his collection.
My cousins, Kendra and Kelsie, holding Kerigan.  They both kept wanting to hold her!  I wish they lived closer because they would be great babysitters!
It's funny... I always take pictures of the "kids" but really, I belong in this picture, because I am the oldest grandchild!  My cousins were born much later (Kolton and I are 25 years apart!)  but it just seems more like the kids are Andrew and Kerigan's first cousins since they are closer in age!  Andrew just loves them so much and loves to see them.
Craig carved the turkey and we had all the trimmings.  It was a delicious meal!
The best family picture we could get.  Andrew is such a stinker for pictures!  

Andrew headed back with Ga Ga and Papa to spend the night (he said "only just Ga Ga, Papa and me, you go back home!"  Ha!)  So Craig and I took the princess back home and I started baking for our next gathering.  On Friday we headed to Craig's parents for an early Christmas celebration!  More to come soon...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

reflecting with thanks

Ok, so I've had my Christmas decorations up for weeks now.  The shopping and wrapping is almost done, and the baking is going to be done in a few days (and frozen for Christmas!)  It's no secret that visions of sugarplums are dancing in our heads... (well, mine and Andrew's anyway!)

But I certainly can't forget about today.  Sure, I consider myself thankful every single day throughout the year.  So why should today be any different?

For me, today is just a day to be reminded.  To remind myself of the blessings in my life, and reflect on the things I am continually thankful for.  Bring them into the light, if you will.

As I began reflecting on what I was thankful for, I quickly realized that the things that I am thankful for aren't things.  Sure I'm thankful I have a roof over my head and food on the table, but what I'm really thankful for are people.  People who I could not go through this life without...

I'm grateful for God most of all.  Because it is Him, after all, who gave me these special people.
"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

My Husband~
There are many times a day that I think I would be so lost without him.  His job is so demanding that many nights the kids and I are alone, and also some weekends.  It is these times that I think to myself, how do single parents do it?  (But then in the same breath I say I feel like one sometimes!  Ha!)  But the way he makes up for being gone so much when we are all together is amazing.  He genuinely enjoys playing a game with Andrew, or holding Kerigan while she naps.  He plays "Mr. Mom" and gives me a break so I can go to Target alone, or sleep in on the weekends.  He truly would do anything for any one of us, and we all know it.  He is the very best daddy, and I am certain my kids would agree!

I am thankful for him not only because is a great father to our children and helps me immensely when it comes to taking care of them, but he is also my best friend.  The one I want to talk to when we both get home from work.  The one I miss when we are apart.  The one I love just hanging out with and doing simple things like watching our shows and eating treats, or laughing about something the kids are doing.  He's the best companion I could ever have hoped for.

I am so thankful for this day...

Thankful that God brought us together, and has kept us together through many ups and downs.
(one of my favorite pics from our honeymoon in Hawaii, overlooking the ocean.  I'll never forget this night.)

My children~

Oh my precious angels sent from above- where would the joy in my life be if it weren't for them?  It's no secret on this blog that neither of my children came easy for me.  Years of infertility treatments, painful injections, and drugs that did crazy things to my body... Yes, I did this twice!  And it was more than worth every.single.minute.  Many times I look at the kids and just think, how did they even get here?  How were we this blessed?  Is this really my life or just a perfect dream?  These precious little people were not here one day, and then one day they were.  I just don't see any other reason for it than the love of God.  He knew my heart and my longing to be a mother.  And He gave that to me.  And I'm oh so thankful.  
I'm also thankful that he gave me the honor of being a mommy to a very special little boy with a very special heart.
How can I not be thankful for this?  My precious little boy's heart fully repaired.  He's alive.  And he's as spunky as ever!
And that is just a miracle all in itself.

And my beautiful daughter.  She is my dream come true.  The little person I wanted for as long as I can remember.  My little real-life dolly!  It is as if I prayed for this perfect little girl, with a perfect heart and smiley personality...and God just dropped her right out of the sky and into my life.
I'm so glad He did.

My mom & dad~
Craig and I attended date night at our church last weekend.  The topic was family origin, and we were supposed to make connections with our past and how it affects our marriage and lives today.  It was quite interesting.  But the thing that really struck me was when we were asked to do a visualization technique.  We were supposed to picture our house growing up, and our bedroom.  Posters on the wall, everything.  (Yes, I was picturing my New Kids on the Block comforter and posters!  Ha!)  Anyway, we were supposed to think of the people who meant the most to us during that time in our lives, and write positive and negative attributes of those people.  The only people I pictured were my parents.  And the only attributes that came to mind were, loving, caring, giving, generous, thoughtful, funny, and making me feel important.  I could not think of a single negative attribute of either one of my parents.  There isn't one.  Sure, no one is perfect.  But they were (and are) perfect in my eyes.  They gave me a childhood full of wonderful memories and special moments that I will never forget.  But most of all, they gave me love.  Never a day went by that I didn't know I was loved, and that my parents were proud of who I was.  They told me.  Every single day.  Thankful doesn't even begin to describe it.

And while my dad is no longer with me on this Earth, not a day goes by I don't think of him, and smile when I see my children because I know that he is watching me be their mother.  And I know he's proud.

(One of my favorite pictures of dad and me, at an ISU football game)
I am so thankful for the relationship my mom and I have.  My mom just emulates beauty, both inside and out.  There has never been a moment in my life that she wasn't there for me.  And I think that is pretty amazing.  It is so incredible for me to see her be a grandmother to my children.  I'm pretty sure we couldn't make it without her!  Her help is so appreciated.  She is everything to me.

Thankful just doesn't seem like the right word to describe my feelings on this day.  I'm so beyond thankful that there just aren't any words that exist that could ever explain it.

That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:12

And someone is looking forward to the arrival of a certain Elf tonight...

Happy Thanksgiving!

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