So it has been a long time since I last posted and a bit of stuff to catch up on. I am going to go a little out of order because I need to address something first and foremost:
The most wonderful Christmas gift we received was from Uncle Mark, Auntie, Miya, Nathan, and Jacob. We were delighted to have them over and be able to do a Christmas exchange, and were completely blown away by their thoughtfulness and generosity. IF you remember last year they gave us the awesome banners for the Joshua Charge for CHARGE run that we will use year after year. A very thoughtful gift and couldn't be topped. Well, I was overwhelmed with emotion once again to receive not only a beautiful family ornament with each person in our family represented, but also a memorial brick to be dedicated to Joshua. As you know, if not from my millions of pictures and posts of us spending time at the Arboretum whenever we can, or from me constantly talking about how great it is there, I love the Arboretum. I have gone there with friends, family, alone to run or mill around, with just my kids to spend some adventure time and picnic, or to just reflect. I feel very close to Joshua at the Arboretum, whether its because is a serene place or just a place where I find myself connecting a bit more while I run or play around, it has become a place I go when I want to do something fun and for me. I am lucky that Joey and Jillian have the playful energy and love the outdoors as well! I know they will have fun going to the Arboretum and looking for the brick with Joshua's name on it. We plan on being there when the brick is put in this spring, and will have Uncle Mark, Auntie Miya, Nathan, and Jacob there as well! It truly is a most thoughtful and generous gift that I cannot put my gratitude into words. I am thankful not only to have such a lovely gift, but the great friendship and support that Miya and Mark constantly provide. Thank you!
Unfortunately I do not take enough pictures when they are around because we are usually too busy talking and having fun, but I got a few of Joey and Nathan together. Nathan loves Java and I think Java likes the attention she gets when he's around!
Last Sunday (12/11) we had a busy morning. After church we headed over to Assumption to bring a Christmas tree. It was a bit cold so we weren't there long, and luckily across the street at Cantigny a friend of mine gave me an article about a train show! So we went in to see the Lego railways. It was very detailed and elaborate. After a bit of time there it was off to the Arboretum! (You know I can barely go a week without being there!) The Arboretum has an Enchanted Railroad with trains galore! When I had gone the week before I spoke with a lady that worked there and she said it was possible to spend hours there watching the different trains go by, so to bring a book if I brought my kids. She was right, Joey and Jillian absolutely loved it. Before going in, we noted where the brick in Josh's memory will be placed, it is a great area right when you walk in! We spent almost 45 minutes there before we made them stop for lunch. Of course they had us back in after lunch all the way up until nap time!
Last Friday (12/9) we woke up to finally a little bit of snow! Of course it is all gone now, but our fingers are crossed for a white Christmas anyways! Joey could not wait to put on his boots, hat and gloves and play in the snow, no matter how shallow and bare it was! Jill was initially hesitant, but then learned how much fun it is once you leave your gloves on! They found the little patch of ice from the grill container lid that had blown off so they were taking turns ice skating on a 10x12 piece of ice!
Saturday (12/3)we went to Joey's school for a yummy pancake breakfast and who did we meet...Santa! Joey enjoyed seeing his teachers outside of the classroom and loved telling Santa all the things he wanted for Christmas! Jill even sat on his lap and said a few things that she wanted too! (I think the pics are on Phil's phone so I will add those later). After coming home from breakfast with Santa we were ready to continue the festivities having Auntie Pam, Auntie Tiff, and Auntie Trish over for lunch, and to meet Auntie Trish's new puppy Chevy! Chevy and Java got along really well, and Joey and Jillian (as well as the rest of us) fell in love with Chevy, she is so cute!
Auntie Pam brought the kids a gingerbread house to put together and decorate! Of course Joey wanted to do it right away, but we waited until that evening and we assembled and decorated away!
On Sunday (12/4) Daddy and Joey along with Andrew and Grandma went to ride the Polar Express! They took a train ride, sang songs, visited with Santa, had some yummy snacks, and got an ornament too! We did this last year, and the boy seemed to have just as much fun this year too.
When I was younger, and even now, I would lay underneath the Christmas tree at night with my blanket and stare at the lights. I love the magic of Christmas and all the joy it brings. So each year I have made it a point to do it with my kids as well, and they enjoy pointing out the different colors, talking, and cozying up under the tree.
Finally some other random pics of the last couple weeks...