Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - A year in review...

I rang in 2012 with my family (Sean had to work)in Muscatine. We had no idea what 2012 would hold!
We had only had Cason for a few days and didn't know if we would have the opportunity to adopt him, though we prayed everyday we would be able to have him as our son forever.
We celebrated his 1st birthday with him...

Then, we got the call that we were selected to adopt Wesley.  Shocker!  We had our first family time with him only a coupld of weeks later...

Then we started the transition process of transitioning him to living with us.  We had our first overnight with him at the end of February...we realized our hands were going to be FULL!  He officially came to live with us on March 8th...

Tate graduated from Preschool...

We had a BUSY summer with lots of fun...

Chris, Brenda, Bode and Boone moved back to fact, they moved to Muscatine!!!
We realized there was no way our growing family would fit in our tiny house, so we bought a bigger house...3 times bigger than the one we were living in!

That same day we took posession of the house, Wesley was hospitalized for a week...we never left his side.

Tate took swimming lessons...clearly, he wasn't a huge fan...

The boys got haircuts!

Cason got a walker... 

Tate started Kindergarten!

Wesley started Preschool!

Tate turned 6 on the SAME DAY we finalized the adoptions of both Wesley and Cason!
What a memorable day!

I took Tate to Wisconsin on the annual Apple Picking trip with the Burbacks...
 Wesley turned 4!

We had our 1st wonderful Christmas as a family of 5...

Sean and I took Tate and Wesley on a mini vacation with Mike, Sarah and the girls to Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort as one of their Christmas gifts the day after Christmas...

This year has flown more than any other year ever has!  It's been full of stress, worry, decisions, work, appointments and LOVE...mostly full of love.
I must say, I am okay with 2012 being over.  It will be a year we will never forget.  Hopefully 2013 is a bit more low key for our family.
Happy New Year to all of you!!!  We couldn't have made it through 2012 without you!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort...

As I have mentioned before; Mike, Sarah and the girls went on a mini trip with us last year after Christmas as a gift for the kids. We've realized the ridiculous amounts of toys our children have and don't want them constantly expecting "things" for Christmas each year...aside from the fact that they just don't need anymore toys! A few small items are super exciting for them to unwrap, but spending time together with family and making lifelong memories is just so much more important than opening a present. So last year we decided we were going to start a new tradition. Each year, we would take the kids somewhere for one of their gifts. It has been the BEST idea! Last year was so much fun when we went to Grand Harbour Waterpark in Dubuque and this year we opted for Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort. They were in heaven...these memories we are creating for them will last a lifetime. They won't remember most of the gifts they got, but they will remember the time they got to spend with our family on our annual adventures after Christmas. We are so happy to have started this tradition and look forward to doing it every year. Right now, the kids are young enough that they don't know it's something we'll be doing every year, but as they get older, it will be fun to have them anticipate the trip and wonder what it will be that year. Our plan is to keep it a secret as to what we're doing until we arrive or they figure it out.
We got a lot of "this is the BEST DAY EVER" from the kids on this trip! :)
I must say, it was a FANTASTIC getaway!  We rented a Vacation Villa.  It was HUGE and awesome and the kids would have probably been happy just hanging out and playing there, but in the price of the Villa rental, we also got free admission to the waterpark, amusement park and if weather had permitted, the mini golf and awesome hiking that is apparently nearby at Starved Rock.
The kids were THRILLED to say the least...
And I believe that Mike and Sean may have had more fun on the rides than the kids did!
They are such kids themselves!

And the token strange expression from Tate.

My amazing in-laws...Mike, Sarah, Leah and Kayla.  So fun to get some time away with them.  Even though they live in the Quad Cities, both of our families are so busy, we rarely get a chance to get together with them!

Our big boys... these 2!

Love this shot!  The kids loved this ride...however, it took some convinving to get Tate on it!

And Mike having more fun than the kids again...
 I can't recommend Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort enough.  It was such a great trip!  I think it would be even more wonderful in the summertime!  We didn't get to do the hiking or mini golf because of the cold weather, but can only imagine how fun the addition of those activities would be in the summertime.  Also, it's only a bit over an hour away in Utica, IL!  I have a feeling we'll be least if the kids have anything to say about it we will! :)

Peakin Christmas 2012

We kicked off the Peakin Christmas on the evening of Christmas Day. We hung out, chatted, ate tacos and the kids played.
Tyler and Tate slept in his room and stayed up WAY too late...they had a great time though!
The next morning we did our Christmas gift exchange, ate brunch and the kids played the morning away.  We got a large canvas for Pat and Linda again this year since the one we got them last year was before 2 important little boys were part of the family.
Cason was excited to be in the picture this year. ;)

I want this canvas for MY wall! this picture!  Wish you could see it better...the plastic is still on it here, so you can't really see the shot very well...

Then, all the kids opened gifts...everyone was so excited about all of their presents!

Then there was more playing and running around for the kids.  They love spending time together!

It was a great day and so nice that we were able to host it!  I love hosting gatherings in our home...I love that I have a home that fits enough people to host these gatherings!

After everyone went home, we packed up and headed out for our mini vacation to Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort which was they boys' big Christmas gift this year.  Taking the boys on a little getaway just after Christmas as their big gift has become an annual tradition that we look forward to continuing for years and years to come.  Hopefully as time goes on, these trips will be longer than just a couple of days!

Stewart Christmas 2012

I cannot believe how quickly Christmas came and went this year!
We kicked off Christmas with a few days in Muscatine at my parents' house.  Santa brought the boys' gifts there.
The big boys got Balance Bikes and some nice loot in their stockings...
Cason got a little walking toy from Santa that he loves!

The boys were all so excited in the morning to go upstairs and see all of their gifts from Santa!

Tate was extremely excited about Dance Central 3!

Then, we opened gifts that we got the boys and each other.  Tate opened his new Twister game and started playing right away!  He's pretty good!

We hung out all day with family and that evening we opened gifts from Nana and Papa...

The kids were all thrilled with their head lamps.
I am unsure why Tate has to make the craziest faces for pictures, but it's just "him".
Silly kid...

Wesley got a Sit n Spin!

Then, the boys spent the next day out in the snow with their new sleds!

It was such a great time.  We got to spend time not only with the cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings and my parents, but my 95 year old grandpa, my 2 uncles (one whom lives in California and we rarely see) and my aunt, uncle and cousin from Des Moines made the trip.  There's just nothing like spending time with family on it!
Thank you to my parents for hosting everything!