Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Time

 We always like to wait until Thanksgiving is officially over before breaking out the Christmas Stuff.  It would be more advantageous if we (and by we I mean Eric) had gotten up on the roof the week before Thanksgiving when it was sunny and in the 50s.  Instead it was cold.  But Eric got up there over the weekend, and put up the lights.  

Eric loves blue lights. 
Me too. 
When I was growing up, and my parents were together, there was a house across the street that always had blue candles in their windows.  Now I'm older, I wonder if they might have been Jewish.  Doesn't matter, I see Blue Christmas lights and it gives me Peace.  It just makes me think that all is calm, and all is bright when I see a bunch of blue lights.   After my Mom moved to Carmel, one of our neighbors did this Christmas Tree that you had to walk up under to get to the front door.  I loved it, and so did Eric.  He thought it was pretty nifty. So he started making one for our house.   

Someday though, he wants to put lights on the pillars, and maybe be able to switch out gels for them to turn colors.  That could be Awesome too.  

He got the lights on the Disney tree.  So Purty. 
He got the lights up outside and on all the trees before he had to go back to work.  
That's pretty great progress!

After Eric decorated the Dawn Redwood, it immediately started turning red and dropping its needles.

This year, Jacob told us (no really, he told us) he wanted to put up the Angel. 
He's a little heavy and awkward, so we opted to let him put the Angel on the top of the tree, before we connected it to the top.  He was quite proud of himself. 

Then Daddy got to lift Jacob up to straighten the angel. <3

This is Jacob and I trying to get Daddy into the Christmas Spirit.  

This is Jacob doing a Daddy impression. 
Note, neither of us could keep a straight face. 

It wasn't even fully decorated yet, and this tree is my happy place.  

Sam couldn't wait to help put up the tinsel last night. He didn't even wait for the rest of us.

All the boys wanted to get cracking putting up ornaments.

Jacob hung up a bell, and kept laying on the floor to look up at the ringer. 
He loves to ring that bell.  At least it's metal, so it'll be hard for him to break. 

Sam was quite helpful at hanging ornaments this year. 

Silhouettes of sweetboys hanging ornaments. 
I'm happy to say that this year, no ornaments were harmed in the process of decorating this tree.
Last year, Jacob shattered three before we finished decorating the tree, and 2 more shortly thereafter. 

Chris was a great helper this year.  

I decorated the Disney Tree. 
I feel like it needs more Mickey ornaments. 
Can you ever have too many Mickey ornaments?  

I love our home at Christmas time.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Secondary Thanksgiving

Yesterday, we had a secondary Thanksgiving lunch/dinner with Eric's family.  Just the 15 of us. 

We had smoked turkey, green bean casserole, and all kinds of pumpkin fabulousness.  We brought buns and cranberry jelly, which were a big hit with the kiddos.   It was a good meal, with good company, and it had been a long time since we got to all hang out together.  

Jake and Jeremiah were actually getting along!  It had been a while since they'd gotten to play together too!  
After lunch, while the kids played, I got to have a concert just for me as the girls practiced their instruments. It was the most time I'd spent with the girls in a year.  Most times lately I see them, they are on their phones, or watching youtube videos I don't understand.  But this, Music, I could understand! 

Here's Lexi playing the cello. She has such a Gift!
She's modest, saying she messes up, but she's brilliant.  She shouldn't play poker, I can see her face twitch when she hits a doozy, but she plays with so much more skill than I ever did, it's amazing to watch.  I couldn't tell the mistakes unless I watched her face.  Even more miraculous to listen.  I got a video snippet of her playing her Solo/Ensemble piece for me, but it's like 4 minutes long, and crashed Blogger to load it.  

Meanwhile, I got to hear Kaylee play bells for the first time.  
She's got great rhythm.  I love how her foot flies. 

She's having a great time with all of the percussion instruments.  And her school seems to be teaching her quite well.  It was impressive.  And being able to just listen to them play was so calming and therapeutic for me.  Around here, we start most mornings with the boys practicing the piano.   But on vacation, that schedule gets off, throws me off.  This was perfect.  I hope they come and play for Willman Family Christmas just like we used to do at Grandma Willman's back in the day.  

Erica and Karl stepped away from the NICU, and brought Cole.  Cole would not look at me.   He's probably exhausted from doing things and going places Every Day.  But he played with the boys for a while, and I did get a smile at one point.  I gave him some Batman toys, and at first he didn't want them, and was more interested in telling me no, but we won him over eventually. He and his baby brother have the same Willman furrowed brow when they get upset, just like all three of my boys.  

Meanwhile, our family members are silly. 
Uncle Ryan and Jacob were having so much fun.  
What a hoot!

Then Grandma borrowed Jacob while we took the big boys to the movies!  Chris, Sam, Eric and I got to go see the new Disney flick Moana.  I liked the movie but I feel like they were just setting things up for major merchandising though.  I thought, Oh, every little girl is gonna want one of those necklaces for Christmas.  And won't he be cute as a stuffie?  And I wonder if they can save Animal Kingdom with some of this bioluminescent stuff when the Avatar exhibit flops. Most importantly, when are we going to Aulani, the Disney Hawaiian resort that probably will have Moana huts and dance classes?  It felt like I'd stumbled into Spaceballs - the Gift Shop.   But it was a cute movie, they tied the merchandising in well.  I will say the music was great!  I expected it to be because it was Lin Manuel Miranda and I loved a number of the songs, in fact, I was happily surprised Dwayne Johnson really sings his own number! 3 snaps in Z formation for him!  Alan Tudyk steals the show without saying a word, and that's all I'm going to say about that.  

It was good to have some family fun.  

Friday, November 25, 2016

Abundantly Blessed

All My Boyz! 
Just how I love to spend the Holidays. <3

It's the hats.  
I made them all, and I love how adorable they look on all of us. 

All of us are wearing hats that I made.  
This year I was scrambling to finish the turkey and pumpkin pie hats just in time for Thanksgiving. 
I love how Festively they turned out.  
Next year we may need to wear a lot more orange. 

For the first years we were together, we would always go to Marion on Thanksgiving , and spend the holiday with all Eric's Grandparents, as well as lots of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins.  When we had kids, we still went North.  It was the Tradition, and we weren't bucking the system.  

But Grandpa passed away in 2014, and our traditions have changed.   I kept thinking during all that old time, that I'd always wanted to go to New York City, and get a room like in Miracle on 34th Street, and watch the Parade from the balcony.   I know, I know, it's an Insanely Expensive Dream. 
Last year, we didn't have the money for that.  This year...  we still don't.  I may never get that dream to come true.  

In the meantime, I get to watch the Parade from Home.  
Jacob and I stayed in our Pajamas all morning, and we watched the Parade.  

After the Parade, we had "lunch" in front of the TV. 
Since we were due to have an early dinner at 4, we had midmorning snack bars, and a light lunch. 
Our Lunch was Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lunch of Popcorn and Jelly Beans.  
And while we ate it, you got it, we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  

It had been a few weeks since I got to see Lisa, but she got a big kick out of our hats.  
I asked her to take a Cheesy Photo with me.  Daddy took it of us.   
We so silly. 

My Stepmom made 'turkey for dessert' too.  
These little turkeys were so adorable.  And she made some extra ones with no red, or regular candy corn, just so Sam could eat them.  Turns out those were a big hit.  I find all of our kids just generally do better avoiding red 40.  It makes them all a little crazy.  And that's a bigger problem when it's hard to send them outside to do laps, after Oma sugars them up, like this time of year.  

Remember that one time, when all 5 of them played sweetly?
Yeah, I had to take a picture of it.  
It didn't last.  

All 5.  
All 5 of them together were extra adorable.   
Lisa had been 'sick' for a while, so we hadn't been able to get all the kids together.  
They were Cute, but Crazy. 

After the girls left, the boys gathered up on the bar in Oma's Kitchen.  
I thought they looked pretty cute.   But it was soon time for Chris and I to go to the Game, while Eric took the little ones home.  

A Selfie. 
Opa hooked him up with facial tattoos. So I let Chris borrow my phone to take pics of us.  

A Portrait by Christopher. 
Chris took this of me.  It's completely unedited, and I love it. 
He always manages to get the best pictures of me.  

Chris at the Game! 
He's Ready to Rock!  
Opa bought him one of these giant foam fingers, and he was so thrilled. 

Opa and Oma and their Punkin Pie. 
I love this. 

All of us. 

Who's the Turkey? 

It's the hat, it really makes it. 
Oh, and silly Oma with the fingers. She hates getting her picture taken, but she's the silliest of us all.

He was So Ready to Cheer the Team! 

Welcoming the Team! 
We were practically Horse, with yelling before the game really got going. 

My favorite part of the game is when they bring out the flag. 
It brings tears to my eyes.  Once they had an Eagle circle the stadium, and it was beautiful.   
Not today, but I love how they bring out local Servicemen to hold the flag.  

Best Picture of the Day. 
Who's this turkey? 
He's Pat McAfee's #1 Fan! 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Love, from our home to yours. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Baby Blue

Last night we packed up our boys to go visit Baby Bryce, and kidnap his Mama and Daddy from the hospital to feed them.   He had gotten hooked up to the bilirubin light.  It's working really well, it just means they can't hold him as much.

I've been wanting to go up to the hospital every day.  But logistically it doesn't work everyday.   So yesterday, Eric and I went on a mission to find Preemie My First Thanksgiving onesies.  Turns out no such thing exists. But Carter's had a decent stash of Preemie clothing.  It still looked like it was going to swim on him.   However, Tuesday night, Scouts got cancelled, and we found ourselves with a smidge of time.  I wrote and asked if we could Kidnap Karl and Erica for supper. I remember how much it meant to me when people brought us food.  So when Eric finished his yard work project, I packed up all the yahoos and we headed north.  The boys and I hung out in the waiting area, while Eric visited.  Then I got to take my turn.

I didn't get to hold him.  But that's ok, I did get to reach in and touch these little toes.  He's so soft.  When I visited on Sunday, I got to touch his head.

They were trying to put him on his back, all swaddled up.  
He didn't want that.  He doesn't want to be bundled up.  
He's so feisty, and has so much personality. 

At first he was not a fan of the bilirubin glasses.   But he has finally decided they are ok. 
Before he got them, he hated bright light, and Mr. Drama King would put his whole bundled arm over his head.   Now he seems more content to just put up with it.  It's just hard to see his face. 

This foot cracks me up.  I always like to sleep with my foot kicked out a bit. 
He fits into this family well. 
Tiny but mighty.  

That's what one of the onesies said that we got them.  I cried in the store when I saw that one.  I have trouble.  I told her not to expect much from me for him for Christmas.  But I couldn't help myself.  Our own NICU experience is still fresh in my mind.  I remember Christopher's first Christmas, us missing all familial celebrations, and spending it in the hospital.  We were the first folks we knew that had a NICU baby.  But this time, we are a bit more prepared to help out.   And after being Blessed by such family members and friends when we've been in a mess, we can share it.   Looks like we'll be sharing for a while.  Bryce is amazingly resilient, and feisty.  I can't wait to see what he is going to grow up like.  And his parents, well, they are amazing too.  I didn't handle it as well as they are. But God gives us all the strength to handle these things.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bryce means Swift

So, this morning, I had a terrible case of ants in my pants.  I wanted to go to the hospital.  I wanted nothing more than to see my new nephew.  I wanted to make sure my sister in law was doing ok.  Having a NICU baby can be really tough.  

So, I decided to skip church.  I told the boys, I'm going to worship God and giving thanks for his creations in a slightly different manner.   As Chris put it, I'm going to see some of God's other miracles. <3

Mommy gets to hold Baby's hand.  
When I arrived, Erica had just finished pumping, and I they were letting the baby have a snack.
Apparently, even if the preemie is still too young to swallow (which he is), he can still absorb a bit of that Liquid Gold through the lining of the mucosa.   So they dip the paci into the colostrum and give him a snack.  He seemed to be a fan.  He was not a fan of people messing with him.  He was having a blood draw when I arrived, and his wee squeaky cry was almost heartbreaking.

Mommy gets to hold the baby for the first time. 
After they messed with him, they set Erica up with some kangaroo karry time.   
See how tiny he is!  

Once he got all bundled up on Mama's chest, he calmed down.   
This was my favorite photo of her that I took.  

Aww, the happy family.  

Here's another good one too.  He's so tiny.  

Daddy watches over them.  
It was an honor to witness this visit.  

Big hands, tiny hands.  
Erica looks so amazing after giving birth. 
Of course, this was a quick birth.  He shot out 20 minutes after she walked in the door.  They didn't even have time to check her yet until she told them she felt like she needed to push. 

Aww, aren't they sweet?!
They make a Beautiful Product!

By the time I had arrived, they had narrowed it down to two names: Bruce or Bryce. But still hadn't chosen one specifically yet.  Eric and I had discussed it the night before, when we heard Bruce was Erica's favorite, he thought Bruce from Finding Nemo.  "We're having Fish tonight!"  I was like, no way, Batman is her favorite, it's for Bruce Wayne.  I was right, I found out I won.  

He's a boy on the move.  He wasn't content to just sit and chill on her chest.  He kept scooterbugging down.  What a speedy little wiggler.    

Look at those long fingers!  
He is so long!  He's a skinny little mini, but he has these long fingers and long legs, and he keeps kicking them out.  

Finally he started to go sideways.  He'd wiggle his oxygen off his face, and squawk about it.  And we'd try to fix it, and that just made him angrier.  

He was actually happier on her belly than on her chest. 
I was kind of glad of that.  

This way I could get in and get some good shots. 
Look at all that fuzzy hair.  Even this early, he exceeds his Big Brother at birth in hair!  

When he was sideways, not only could we get better views of him, but he got better views of us. 
At first he just kept turning his head towards Karl every time he spoke.  Then he was opening one eye, the left, and it would flash open and we weren't sure if we'd seen it, but then he 

Then we got to see a flash of dark blue.  
Yup, there were two eyes open! 

Look at that face!  
So tiny, so amazing! 

This was my favorite picture.  
I just happened to catch it with my phone, I was trying to catch a photo to send to Grandma.  He looked right at me, and blammo, I got a great shot!   Well, a little zoomed in, but still, a great shot!

For some reason, the phone decided to take this shot with the flash.  Ugh! 
It was pretty dark in the room.   
Baby did not like the flash.  But I think he forgave me after a minute. 

He kept opening his eyes to look at Daddy!

It's not my best shot, but check out how schemy our little Speedy Pete is already!  
He's checking to see if Ma is looking while he tries yanking that tube out of his nose. 
He likes to pull a fast one. Ha Ha!

The nurse came in and busted him, she didn't believe us that he had slithered down by himself, that he didn't want to be kangarood on Erica's chest.  Nope.  So she bundled him up with a hat.  He was not amused.  She didn't believe us that he didn't want to be bundled on her chest... until she tried to make it so.  The whole process was exhausting.  Being born is such hard work! And the nurse said, oh you're so feisty, and fast, just keeps kicking those feet out.  Not surprising at all.  He's fast when he wants to be.  

After he was taking a look at Daddy, it was Daddy's turn to hold him.  

Karl's a natural.  
He was totally unphased by all the cords and things.  He did really well with him.  
It's so strange, I remember this guy laughing and cracking fart jokes as an 8 year old, now he's a Dad!

They had to get that darned oxygen tube back up his nose.  
Isn't it great?!

During our conversations about the names, I asked what they meant, because I thought maybe the meaning would help give them some insight as to which name to choose.  So I googled Bruce, and it was English for thick brush.  Not too bad for a thick haired sweet baby brother.   But Bryce, that was from Celtic for swift.   Now, not to prejudge, but I knew which name I was voting for.  But I remained reticent.  Diplomatic, I said nothing.   So I began jumping up and down for joy when she replied moments later, it's a Good Thing we chose Bryce Phillip.

Perfect!   For Bryce means swift.