Friday, December 20, 2013

Gabe's First Field Trip

We're planning on schooling Gabe at home.  It's something we've put a lot of thought and prayer into and for right now, it's what works best for our family.  Fortunately we were welcomed right into an area homeschooling group and this past Monday Gabe had his first official school field trip.  

Eeek!!  His first field trip! It's official.  Gabe's a big boy now! 

We went to a local fire station where we learned about fire safety, fire trucks and planning for an emergency.  I was pretty impressed by the fact we had more than the number of recommended smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in our house and our refrigerator already sports an escape plan (thank you home study requirements!).  We do need to work on the whole "stop (cover your eyes), drop and roll" aspect of fire safety but we'll get there.  

Gabe was excited about the fire trucks, a little unsure about sitting in the fire truck and in love with the firehouse dog, Siren.  Firemen Frank and Ryan even turned the lights and sirens on on the bucket truck.  Gabe said the lights were "so cool Mom" (yes, he calls me mom some times... where did my baby go?) but was happy when the siren was turned off.  

Gabe's first field trip.  
December 17, 2013.  
The beginning of a new phase of our sweet boy's life.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There's no fun like Snow fun!

One thing we didn't have while living in Texas was snow.  I can't say that I missed it.  It's only December and I am beyond done with snow.  
Gabe on the other hand didn't know what he was missing!  
Gabe loves snow. 
He absolutely LOVES it!  
The snow pants he wore twice last year still fit and are getting their money's worth this year. 

Good thing Matt is off for until 2014 starting Friday.  I'm imagining a lot of Daddy-Son time spent outside in the snow.  I'll watch from inside the house, nice and warm...and perhaps sneak outside for a picture or two.  

It's good physical therapy walking in the snow.  
Just seeing Gabe walking in the snow makes my heart burst.

Shoveling with daddy.

Shoveling by himself.  
He's so proud.  
And we are so proud of him.

I may not like the snow but I love how it looks hanging from the tree branches.  
Beautiful.  Peaceful.  
But way too cold.  
Did I really grow up here? 
How did I turn into such a freeze baby so quickly.  
But it's still picturesque.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Continuing on with the Kindness Advent

December is going by in a blur.  Is Christmas Eve really one week away?  I should probably get on that whole Christmas Eve dinner menu planning that I've put off the past two months. Oops! 

One of my favorite parts of this season has been our Kindness Advent.  Not only is gift giving a love language for me but watching Gabe's joy in giving to others almost makes my heart burst.  Gabe's favorite day by far has been last Tuesday when he gave out balloons to all of the children at therapy.  Getting 25 balloons into the car on a blistery cold day with strong winds was slightly comical.  Three blew away.  Two popped.  But the smile on Gabe's face as he handed out the balloons and the delight on the recipients faces was enough to quell the trouble of getting the balloons into the vehicle.  

These were the remaining three balloons when Gabe went back for OT.  He handed these out when he was done. 

Wednesday Gabe woke up with a cold so we just stayed home and upped the ante on our next day's give.  Again, the weather was disturbingly cold so rather than surprising Nonny and Mrs Tiech with flowers at school we brought coffee.  For the whole school.  I wanted to get a picture of Gabe pushing the buggy loaded with Dunkin Donuts coffee but was a little preoccupied with ensuring the coffee didn't spill.

Friday we dropped off coffee cake to our neighbors and Saturday we delivered Christmas dinner to families in our community.  This was a project started by our church and I love the idea of working together to ensure little (and big) belly's are full this Christmas season.  We've been really trying to impress on Gabe that we are very blessed and need to bless others; that some refrigerators aren't full of food and it's required of us to share ours.  He's only four but I think he's starting to get it out.

Sunday Gabe was supposed to give Thank you cards to his Sunday School teachers but we didn't want him to share his cold with his friends at church so we stayed home.  This coming Sunday will just have to be a double give day!

Yesterday we took cookies to a local fire department.  It was already on our list of activities to do when I made our calendar but played out perfectly with a field trip to the fire department that was in the works.  I love hearing Gabe wish people Merry Christmas when he gives a gift and who doesn't love peanut butter blossom cookies during Christmas time?

Today?  Today we will give a token of appreciation to our mail person.  While we'd love to give her coffee to drink while she's out in this crazy cold weather, instead we'll give her a gift card to Starbucks to get coffee when she's done.

Choosing joy this Christmas season, choosing to give Christmas away this year has been the best way to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Baby Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree farm we buy our Christmas tree from was handing out pine tree saplings when we were there.  Other years we have forgo-ed bringing the sapling home but this year we figured, why not?  Gabe loves a good mess and growing a tree is kind of like a rite of passage for little kids.  After buying some soil from Home Depot Gabe set to work adding soil to the pot then burying the roots of his tree in the soil.  

Yes that is a mixing bowl filled with soil and a kitchen spoon he's using to dig.  Don't judge.  It's winter in Ohio and we were not going to look around the garage for the proper tools.  It's all about the experience anyways, right?

 I love Gabe's excited face!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

O' Christmas Tree

Christmas tree hunting!  

We missed Christmas tree hunting the past two years while we lived in Texas.  It didn't make sense to go find a big tree when we knew we'd be spending Christmas in Ohio. Despite the blustery cold weather, it was great to be back at the the Medina Tree Farm.  It was comforting to be back where our Christmas traditions began. Gabe was much bigger than he was the last time we went (2009, 2010) and had much more fun with playing in the snow, looking at trees and once his legs needed a break, getting a ride from Daddy.

We search long and hard for our perfect tree.  It doesn't matter the type as much as the look.  Beautiful but not perfect.  A little uneven, perhaps a small hole or two but great in color and no dead branches.  We look for the tree that goes overlooked and turn it into a beauty.  Sounds a little metaphorical but it's not meant to be.  We're just a little quirky like that. 

Warming his hands by the fire. 
Note Gabe's sneakers.  He outgrew his boots from last year.
Obviously he would.  This was all we had for him to use without
his braces.  Big, huge mom fail. 

The first ornament hung by Gabriel.

A little bit of Africa on our tree

It may have taken us 3 days to get the tree up and it may still not have any tinsel yet (what stores are selling tinsel?) but it's up, it's beautiful and Gabe loves it.  So do I.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Delivery Days!

The advent season is moving right along, and this year is one of my favorites!  Gabe is really into the Christmas spirit this year and is really getting the true meaning of Christmas; that we are celebrating Jesus' birthday and we are trying to love like Jesus loves, to be kind to all that we meet. 

The past three days were filled with shopping and delivering.  

Saturday we were scheduled to shop for the child we were sponsoring for Christmas.  Gabe and I had already been to the store earlier in the week and we picked up a cute outfit and some fun toys for the little four year Christmas child.  This sponsorship was done through our church and it will go to a child living with his family in a homeless shelter.  We picked a four year old boy because we have a four year old boy. After lots of discussion to Gabe about how some children don't have a warm home like we do, we headed off in Target.  Gabe picked out a Ninja t-shirt and then we headed to the toy aisles.  Gabe, in true Christmas fashion picked out things he would like; Lego's and a Jake and the Neverland Pirates game.  

Sunday we brought the present to church and laid it under the Christmas tree.  We were a little early to service so there weren't many presents there yet.  On the way out I sneaked a peak at the tree and my heart swelled with joy.  The tree was surrounded by presents for children who otherwise may not have gotten any. Giving to others, that's what it's about. 

Sunday afternoon we shopped for Toys for Tots.  Target had a few good sales so we left with a bag full of goodies to drop off at the local newspaper.  

Today was delivery day.  We delivered a bag full of toys for Toys for Tots.  Gabe proudly dropped the Nerf basketball hoop into the box and then spent some time playing with the penguins.

Our next stop was Laura's Home, part of Cleveland's The City Mission. Laura's Home is the only homeless shelter in north east Ohio specifically for women and children.  Laura's Home not only provides a warm, safe place for women to live but it provides them stability, an opportunity to learn, grow and over come whatever is holding them back and helps them re-enter the world with a job, house and hope for their future.

In March I hosted a Bead for Life party where I challenged guests to bring diapers or wipes for Laura's Home to be entered into a raffle to win a their choice of a piece of jewelry from Bead for Life.  A week later Gabe and I delivered three big bags of diapers and wipes to Laura's home.  They were so grateful and I knew we'd want to donate their again.  Earlier last week we shopped for diapers for Laura's Home and then picked out color books, crayons and play dough for the children living there.  Upon arrival we were buzzed in and as I was talking to a staff member, Gabe ran up to the manger scene sitting on a table.  He was talking to baby Jesus when a little girl came up; Gabe has never met another child he doesn't consider a friend, so after his perfunctory "Hi friend," he and the little girl proceeded to play in front of the manger.

Delivery day was successful.  We left with an empty car but full hearts.  Even more important Gabe is learning that it's kind to give, it's fun to give and he can make new friends where ever he goes.  

I believe this... and I want Gabe to believe it too.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Days 3, 4, 5 and 6

Our kindness advent has been so much fun!  It's been great doing for others rather than doing for ourselves. What's been even greater?  Seeing Gabe's excitement as he learns how much fun it is to be kind to others.

Day 3.

Our day three act of kindness was delivering cookies to the police station.  Gabe was so excited to go to the police station!  And the officer that was there to receive the cookies was so sweet.  She repeatedly thanked Gabe, told him what a sweet boy he was and even gave him a Junior Police Officer.  It was such a pleasant experience and I really want Gabe to learn to trust and respect our public service officers that I think this will become a regular activity for us.  

Day 4.

Sending care packages.  What's more fun than receiving mail?  Sending it!

Day 5.

Buying the person's drink in the car behind us.  Gabe had his milk in his drink holder when we pulled into Starbucks.  The usual "mommy get a drink?" and my usual answer of yes was accompanied with pure excitement when I told him we were going to surprise the car behind us with a drink too.  Gabe loves surprises.  He's getting the whole idea of "it's better to give than receive" and his excitement was palpable as the barrista caught a little bit of Gabe's cheer when she saw just how high the excitement level was in our car. Sharing smiles.  Sharing coffee.  That's Gabe.

Tomorrow is Day 6.  Gabe and I will be delivering cards to a nursing home a few streets away from our house.  We spent the evening with my nephews and they helped us with making the cards.

Twenty-five handmade cards ready to go spread some Christmas cheer.  And these cards are fun; Christmas trees, stars, smiley faces, hand prints, Mario and Luigi drawings... Jake, Sam and Gabe covered all the Christmas topics. 

"For it is in giving that we receive."
St. Francis of Assisi