Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Holidays, Part1 - The Baldwins

This year we got to spend time with family on all sides. We started off with a visit from Rebecca's mom and dad. The kids are always excited when they visit and this was no exception. 

Grandpa reading to the boys
Not surprisingly, one of their favorite things was a box big enough to hide each of them in.

Both Gabe and Ezra got Tee Ball sets. Gabe went nuts every time he hit the ball. He would throw the bat up over his head and go running after the ball.
The next day, we went to visit with Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Baldwin in Kannapolis. We also got to see Aunt Bethany, Uncle Phil and Aunt Kelly, as well. 

Aunt Kelly made the kids go on a scavenger hunt for their gifts. She hid puzzle pieces all around the house and made the kids go find them to put it together. Unfortunately, even with the help of the adults, the kids couldn't find all the pieces. Fortunately, we did find enough to figure out the clue.

We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone and can't wait for the next time!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hanukkah 2012

We just finished our 8-day Hanukkah celebration and, boy, did we all have a wonderful time! We did lots of great activities, made cool crafts and did a bunch of things together as a family. For those who don't know, Hanukkah is the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple after the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE. The Greeks had completely devastated and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple along with forcing the Jewish people to stop following Torah and to sacrifice to the Greek gods. The people revolted in 167 BCE and in 2 years, successfully beat back the Greeks and retook the Temple.
Our homemade oil-burning menorah
 That alone is enough to celebrate but one reason behind the 8 days is a legend that goes like this: Once the Temple was cleaned and prepared, they found that there was only enough sacred lamp oil to burn for one day. The process of pressing and refining the oil was 8 days long, so once they lit the lamp, they didn't have enough to keep it lit as they were required to do. Miraculously, the lamp continued to burn for the full 8 days! So we celebrate and thank God for his great miracles from the past and in our lives during this time. We talk about our Messiah who is the true light of the world. We also talk about standing firmly in our beliefs and we pray for those who are persecuted for their beliefs. We are thoroughly blessed in so many ways!

This year, we celebrated with the traditional candle-lighting, but we also had fun activities and treats each day. Rebecca made a cool menorah with numbered "flames" that you pulled out and each one had the day's activities written on them (Thanks for the idea, Lacey! :). One thing we did every day was to read a story we used last year called Jonathan's Story

A beautiful "stained glass" menorah the kids made.
The kids helped me decorate a giant cookie cake. I never claimed to be an expert. :)
In the story, the kids heard about how the Jews hid in caves and ate dried fruit and nuts, so we let them build a "cave" and eat lunch in it.

 One day, we made sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. They did a wonderful job. :)

Another craft we made were menorahs with their hands.

Olivia and I tried our hands at making a "lace" candle
Olivia also made a new coat of arms for her shield. This year, she put: our family eating together, her and the boys playing, her helping me to work in the yard and worshiping God.

 On the 7th day, we gave them some gifts. The boys got some new wooden trucks and Olivia got a whole mess of Groovy Girl doll clothes and accessories. 

On the last night, we lit beeswax candles that the kids rolled themselves.
 Besides these things, we took the kids out to get donuts, made latkes, went downtown to see the lighting of the big menorah, went out to eat (which is rare treat for our family), and drove just about each day through the always impressive display of  lights on Ridgeway Drive in Greensboro. We all had such a wonderful time and can't wait for next year!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Swim Lessons

A few months ago, Rebecca bought a Groupon for swim lessons through Star Aquatics and we finally got around to signing Gabe and Olivia up. Olivia has had lessons in the past but needed some encouragement overcoming her fear of deeper water. Gabe has never had a lesson, so this was a first for him.

Gabe was fearless. He did very well. he was ready and willing to plunge his face in and blow bubbles when the teacher asked him.
We trusted her enough that he floated on his back and kicked his feet with no struggling or panicking.
Olivia did marvelously well, too.
She never once panicked or cried when her teacher had her kick out into the deep end of the pool. She even swam across to the 10-foot end without help!
 We are proud of both of them for doing so well and overcoming their fears. The instructors at Star Aquatics were wonderful and patient with each of them.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Family gatherings are always a fun and chaotic time, especially now that there are so many of us! This Thanksgiving was no different. Everyone came to Greensboro for the holiday and all the grandkids had a wonderful time with their cousins, aunts and uncles. Much food and drink was consumed and two turkeys gave their lives to satisfy this hungry bunch.
The whole clan. 
Ezra watching TV with uncle Jeff.
Emma sharing a laugh with silly Uncle Rudy.
Rudy and his son, Max
Aunt Vicky bought each of the kids matching pajamas.
a "turkey" sandwich that the kids had for lunch one day.

Stroller races in the driveway with Olivia pushing Vivi and Kira pushing Max.
Ezra and Uncle Rudy

Funny story about this picture: Mom and dad set the picture up so each of the grandchildren had a number in the order that they were born. They gave number 9 to Morgan for little Rooney who is due around New Year's Day. We hadn't told anyone that we were pregnant, so we didn't have a number. I pulled up a "10" on my iPad and told Rebecca to jump into the picture, thinking we would surprise everyone. Well, everyone went crazy, but not for the reason we thought... It turns out they had guessed it, possibly before we found out for sure! They had all taken bets on the due date! Jeff won the pot with May 27th.