Luke, Patty, Anna Kate, Caroline, and Eleanor

Luke, Patty, Anna Kate, Caroline, and Eleanor

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in DC

After a whirlwind trip to Texas for Grannie's service, we headed straight to Washington, DC, to spend Christmas with my entire family! We are so glad that we have ALL been able to be together not once, but twice, during these few months that my parents have been living in the US. Although having 9 adults and 5 children age 3 and under can be a little crazy at times, I wouldn't trade it for the world!

We arrived late Thursday evening and hit the ground running Friday morning with a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Anna Kate loved seeing all of the animal exhibits. All of the kids really enjoyed the hands-on discovery center too!

Friday afternoon we were able to all go on a tour of the Capitol Building. What a beautiful place! It was so neat to learn more about the heartbeat of our nation and all that has taken place inside those walls. Here are all 5 grandkids ready for the tour!

Sisters outside the Library of Congress
(me, sister Sarah, sister-in-law Rachael)

Mom and Dad in front of the Capitol building...they don't look old enough to have 5 grandkids, do they?!?

Saturday morning (Christmas Eve) my brother-in-law Dustin took all of the guys (Dad, Andrew, Stephen, and Luke) on a hike in the Shenandoah mountains. Although the hike turned out to be a little more than what they had bargained for (a 2000 foot change in elevation over 9 miles!), they had a fantastic time enjoying God's creation!

While all the guys were out hiking, the girls stayed back at home and made Grandma Burgin's famous Christmas cookies with all 5 of the kids. I'm not sure if more cookie dough and icing made it into cookies or into their tummies (they are really sneaky, let me tell you!), but they had a great time! And we had fun passing down traditions to the next little generation of Burgins.

Saturday night we went to Sarah and Dustin's church's Christmas Eve service. They have been a part of National Community Church ever since they first moved to DC in 2003 and it has been so neat to see all that God has done in their church since their time there. The Christmas Eve service was actually held in their new location, an old 1920's theater on Barrack's Row. We had a great time singing Christmas carols, being reminded of the miracle of the birth of our Savior, and of course, trying to keep all the kids quiet for an hour!

All dressed up for the Christmas Eve service.

Sweet Caroline

Pretty Anna Kate

My girls

(Ok, confession...these pictures weren't actually taken on Christmas Eve. They were our Christmas card pictures. But we were all wearing the same things!)

After the service we headed home for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Corn Chowder after which we all opened one jammies! This picture was taken right when we got home from the Christmas Eve service. It's the only picture of (almost) all of us that we got...Luke's behind the camera, but he was there too!

There is nothing cuter than a baby in brand new footie pajamas...except maybe FIVE babies in new footie pajamas!

Best one of AK...not the best one of Caroline!

At least they're both smiling in this one...not looking at the camera, but smiling!

Caroline's not so sure about Anna Kate giving her kisses...

"Ok, Mom, she's definitely too close now!"

After we put the kids to bed, my very smart sister-in-law Rachael had the idea to open all the adult presents that night so that we could just focus on the kids Christmas morning. With 9 adults all exchanging gifts, it took quite a while, so we are very glad we did...the kids never would have put up with that! Some of the highlights were a new game (Qwirkle) for everyone, and a beautiful framed collage of family pictures for each one of us from my parents.

Christmas morning we all opened our stocking presents on our own as each family woke up. Here is Anna Kate digging into her stocking and then helping Mommy with hers!

After that, we did all of the kids presents together. Anna Kate's big present was a tricycle that she has been talking about for months (ever since she used one at the beach house we rented in August)! The coolest part about it is that it has a push handle on the back for mommy or daddy to push/steer until she is ready to pedal the bike for herself!

Caroline wasn't quite as excited about opening her Christmas presents...she slept through most of it and Anna Kate opened them for her. But she got some really cute little toys too!

We had a great Christmas afternoon cooking up a wonderful dinner of ham, green bean casserole, rolls, scalloped potatoes, salad, and of course, pumpkin and apple pies! We are so grateful for all this time we have been able to spend with my side of the family while my parents have been in the USA this fall. We had such a special time celebrating the birth of our Savior!

One last note...I just have to add that one of the highlights of this Christmas season has been Anna Kate's singing of her new favorite Christmas carol: Deck the Halls. For some reason she absolutely LOVES this song, and has ALL the words memorized. Although I am sure she has no idea what "Troll the ancient yuletide carol" means, she has been singing/chanting it with gusto ALL THE TIME! She sure does keep us laughing!

Remembering Grannie

As most of you know, Luke's Grannie went home to be with Jesus on Thursday, December 15. Although we were not exactly prepared for how quickly it happened, we know that she was so ready to meet her Savior face to face and we are so happy that she was truly home for Christmas. There is so much that I could say about Grannie and all that she meant to Luke and all that she meant to me over the last 8 years that I have been her granddaughter as well. Yes, she let me start calling her Grannie long before Luke and I were ever married! She was so joyful, and giving, and full of life, and never ever passed up an opportunity to make someone feel loved. She was also such a fighter. Many thought that she wouldn't live after the tragic accident that claimed her husband's life 5 years ago and left her in the ICU and then a rehab center for months following, but fight she did. She was determined to walk down the aisle at our wedding just 9 months after that and she succeeded! And not only that, but she also was able to meet not only her first great-granddaughter, but also her second just a month ago. In fact, the last pictures that we have of Grannie are these of her spending time with Anna Kate and Caroline when we came to Greenwood for Thanksgiving. Have you ever seen a bigger smile?

Although it is always very difficult to lose a loved one, we truly had a wonderful service out in her little hometown of Claude, Texas. We remembered all of the different roles she played in so many people's lives, but mostly we remembered that the was a child of God and because of this she was able to hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Luke officiated the service and I could not have been more proud of him. He reminded us that it is okay to grieve because sickness and death is not the way that things should be. He reminded us that one day God will create a new heaves and a new earth and wipe away ever tear from our eyes and once and for all do away with all sickness and death and crying and pain and we will be able to enjoy Him forever.

After the service we took some pictures at a few different places that meant so much to Grannie during her long and full life. Here is our little family in front of the Claude United Methodist Church where Grannie served faithfully for so many decades. She was a true example of loving and serving the body of Christ.

We also had to take a picture in front of Grannie's house. The house that she lived in from the time she was a baby until the day that she moved to South Carolina just a couple years ago. Can you imagine living in the same house your entire life? She grew up in that house, spent her married days in that house, raised her daughter in that house, offered hospitality to so many in that house, welcomed her grandchildren for many visits in that house, and lived there until the day came that she couldn't live on her own anymore. Amazing!

Finally, we took Anna Kate and Caroline out to see the Palo Duro canyon just a couple miles outside of Claude. What a beautiful example of God's creation that Grannie loved so much. If there are places on earth this incredible, it makes me all the more eager to see what the new heavens and new earth will look like one day!

There is so much more that could be said, but I will close by saying that I was blessed to have Grannie in my life, and I will always have stories for my children about the legacy that she left for them.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2 months old today!

Happy 2-month birthday, Sweet Caroline Hope! I don't like that these days and weeks are passing so quickly, but we have so enjoyed this past month with you, watching your little personality develop. Here is how you are growing and changing this month.

~You are really starting to be more interactive. You have the sweetest little cooing voice and have started "talking" back when Mommy and Daddy talk to you.
~ You now smile a lot during your awake times and have even been known to let out a few giggles! One of the sweetest things you do is give Mommy a big contented smile when you finish nursing. Melts my heart.
~ You are really enjoying your toys on your playmat. You like to bat at the little rattles and things, but you really like the light-up lamb that plays music that your Uncle Stephen and Aunt Rachael and Leah gave you. You don't like it when the music stops and you let us know!
~ You still look like your big sister in some ways, but you definitely have a darker complexion. Your hair has stayed darker and your eyes, though they still have a slight bluish tint around the edge, are turning even darker. I think you might look a little bit more like your Mommy.
~ You are SUCH a good sleeper! I have started to put you down to bed around 9pm and we don't hear from you until 4 or 5. That's 7-8 hours at a time! I feed you around 4 or 5 and then you're back to bed until 7 or 8. You also take some great naps during the day. Oh, and did I mention that you're doing all this sleeping in your own bassinet? We love to snuggle you, but we appreciate the fact that you'll sleep on your own now! I think we're almost ready to put you in the nursery with Anna Kate...
~ One of the things I have really enjoyed this month is watching the way you and Anna Kate have started to interact. She absolutely adores you and you love to watch all of her crazy antics. Her favorite names for you are "Caresy Bearsy" and "Baby Tarry-yine". She has also been known to get quite upset if your outfit doesn't match hers.
~ You really are such a good baby and usually come with me wherever I go. I have mostly been keeping you with me at church because you pretty much just sleep in the sling, but the last couple of weeks the nursery workers have begged me to leave you with them so that they can snuggle and rock you! Last week I left you just for the Sunday School hour for the first time and you did great!
~ As far as your two-month stats go, we are having to postpone your appointment until after Christmas, so I don't really know how much you weigh or how long you are. But when I weigh myself holding you and then subtract my own weight, you're about 12 pounds. We'll see when we go to the doctor what it is exactly, but we can definitely tell that you are growing!

Caroline Hope, we feel so blessed that you joined our family two months ago. You bring us so much joy with your sweet smiles and snuggles. We love you more than words can say and are so excited to see what God has in store for your precious life.

And here are your pictures!

One month old!

Two months old!

Look at that smirk!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hold you, baby Caroline?

I hear this question from Anna Kate at least 10 times a day. She is always wanting to "Hold you, baby Caroline!" Usually she is really good about asking, thanks to the book "I'm a Big Sister" that taught her to always ask Mommy before holding the baby. However, this morning Anna Kate was reading her books and Caroline was laying on her playmat and I ran to the laundry room just for a second to put the clothes in the dryer. While in there I heard, "Mommy, baby Caroline's HEAVY!" Yes, clothes were dropped and I did run into the living room, only to find that Caroline was in fact too heavy for Anna Kate to even get up off the playmat. Crisis averted. But next time one of them is coming with me whenever I go to the laundry room. It kind of reminds me of that know, the one about the sheep, the wolf, and the hay and you have to get them all across a river, but the boat only holds you and one other item? You can't leave the sheep and the wolf because the wolf will eat the sheep, you can't leave the sheep and the hay because the sheep will eat the hay...anyway. Not sure where I'm going with this post, but how about a couple pictures of Anna Kate holding Caroline? Don't worry, this time it was authorized and I was right there make sure that no babies were harmed!

She's so proud of her big sister skills!

"Love you, baby Caroline"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sleeping Beauties

This is what's happening downstairs...

And this is what's happening upstairs...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, at the SAME TIME! I know the fact that my children are taking a nap at the same time is probably not a cause for celebration for you like it is for me, so you can just enjoy the pictures, but I'm excited! Now I'm off to do some serious tidying around the house and then maybe a 20-minute power nap myself!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy girl

So, there's really no reason for this post other than that I just happen to think that I have the cutest baby in the world (it's ok, I know you all think your own children/nieces/nephews/grandkids/whatever are the cutest, and I'm ok with that!). But I just wanted to post a few pictures of my sweet Caroline. She's really started to smile more over the past couple days and I haven't gotten it on camera yet, but these come pretty close!

And this one, just because she's so cute when she's sleeping!

Friday, December 2, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

Is there anything better than the fragrance of a freshly cut Christmas tree filling your house as you sit and enjoy the twinkle of the lights and the memories represented by each ornament? I just love it!

Yesterday Luke and I and the girls, along with my parents, headed out to Pa Pa John's Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down our tree. They had hundreds of beautiful trees to choose from, and I must say, we picked a winner! Here is Anna Kate checking out the Frasier Firs when we first arrived.

Grandma and Grandpa chose a Carolina Sapphire tree. I love the bluish tint to it!

We went with a 10 foot (yes, you read that right!) Leyland Cypress Tree. And this picture may just be appearing on a Christmas card sometime soon!

We decided to do something a little bit different this year and invite our youth group kids over to help us decorate our tree. We had a great time decorating, drinking hot chocolate, listening to Christmas carols, doing our Advent calendar devotional with them, and playing Apples to Apples! Here they are hard at work putting up all our ornaments!

Anna Kate was a big help!

And, I know this isn't the best picture ever, but I wanted to get a shot of her cute outfit...thanks Mimi! (She was too busy decorating to pose...)

The hardest part was getting the star on the top. Matt and Luke had quite a time of it, but eventually succeeded! (fyi...Matt is using our broom to tip the star over to where Luke could reach it. Pretty creative!)

All that hard work finally paid off. Isn't it pretty?

And now I'm going to go sit in the living room and enjoy it for a little while. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Tolberts!

We had such a wonderful time last week celebrating Thanksgiving with Luke's family. It was a much needed few days off work for Luke, and a much appreciated few days of help with the babies for me! This post is going to be FULL of pictures since I took quite a few myself, but also since Luke's brother Jonathan is working on his photography skills and took hundreds that he shared with us!

The first day we were there we took Caroline to meet Luke's Grannie for the first time. I love how this picture captures her excitement to meet her second great-grandchild!

And here she is again in great-grandmother heaven! (And is it just me or does Anna Kate look way too grown up in the picture?)

Anna Kate loved getting out all the toys that her daddy played with when he was little. The two biggest hits were the Duplo Lego blocks and the wooden train pull-toy!

On Wednesday Luke's parents and brother and sister offered to let Luke and I go out on a date for lunch while they watched the babies. Looks like Mimi had it all under control!

We so enjoyed sitting by the fire that Jonathan kept going almost the whole time we were there! Anna Kate had never seen such a phenomenon before and she was quite intrigued.

And here's my little Caroline on her first Thanksgiving!

Getting a picture of these two little turkeys together is not very easy, but here are my best two!

And no surprise here...Anna Kate is ready for the Thanksgiving feast!

And the whole family at the table!

And then we decided we needed a more formal family picture...this was the best shot of everyone!

Back Row: Anna Kate, Luke, Patty, Caroline, Papa (Sam), Jonathan, Allison
Front Row: Grannie, and Mimi (Margo)

After a great Thanksgiving feast we decided to head to the park to get a little fresh air and exercise!

Anna Kate loves her Aunt Allison!

On Friday we headed to a Christmas Tree farm to pick out a tree for Luke's family. Anna Kate had a blast "driving" this tractor!

Then we found one more her size!

Time for a hayride!

And finally, here are a couple of Thanksgiving crafts that I did with Anna Kate the week of Thanksgiving. First, we made a Thankful Tree. Anna Kate collected the sticks with her daddy and we all made leaves that said what we were thankful for.

And a coloring page that Anna Kate did. I helped her write down all the things she was thankful for. She came up with these by completing the sentence when I said, "Thank you God for...."

In order, she is thankful for oatmeal, yogurt, Mommy, Caroliney, Daddy, Nora (church friend), and craft time!

We truly have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. And all of our thanksgiving is to the One from whom all blessings flow.