Thursday, December 18, 2008

Natalie's 3rd Birthday!

Natale turned three on Dec 12th and we had a Princess party with family. We'd only ever had a cake and presents with our immediate family so she thought all the decorations and extra attention was great, even though she had/has a bad cold. Thanks for making her day special! Showing us "how many" with her fingers.
Bill, Linda, Bethany, my mom having some snacks.
Brian did a great job with the decorations. Thanks babe!
Eating pizza... we made 4 and ate them all!

Blake got to open one too... a toy cell phone.
Hello? Hello?
Opening Bethany's presents-coloring books and a puzzle.
New dishes...
...and pretend food.
Doctor set from Grandma and Grandpa Gration
Grandma Yoder trying on the Dr's glasses (who knew that was part of being a doctor? There was a cellphone in the kit too... times have changed. :)
Playing doctor on Bethany
Setting up the Nativity Set from Grandma and Grandpa Yoder.
Natalie's Princess Cake
(thanks to the Pampered Chef Batter Bowl!)Make a wish!

Katherine drove in after finals from Taylor with her friends. They made it just in time for cake and ice cream.

For some reason, all the presents have lots of pieces this year!

It was a great party and I can hardly believe we have a three year old... what's harder to believe is we almost have three children!! I'm 32 weeks now... he's almost here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deer Hunting and Laura's Visit

My friend Laura came to visit while our hubbies were both gone hunting. We went to feed the ducks but it was super cold and the ducks were very hungry. We froze and had to stand on the bench to avoid being pecked! Thanks for coming up, it was fun to see you... hopefully it won't be 3 years between the next visit! :)Mandy climbed in the toy basket all by herself. The kids had fun together... Natalie really enjoyed having a "baby" around-- wait til she sees how small our baby really will be!Dinner with the Hunters-- Randy was hunting in western PA so he drove over for the evening and Brian came back from his first couple days of hunting at his parent's house. Trying to get a cute picture of the kids by the tree... still turned out cute. :)
Natalie got out a whole bunch of cooking stuff... and even climbed up on the counter to get a recipe card.

Blake loves shoes... he's constantly putting them on, no matter the size!

We all went to the Yoders for the weekend so Brian could go hunting. He got this 3-point buck on Tuesday. Skinning it with neighbor, Ed. Brian and his dad got these two doe on Saturday. Natalie loved watching the whole process.Cutting up the deer.
Looking at Natalie's and the deer's ribs.
They cooked some of the meat that night and Natalie loved it... we have some in our freezer and we made a roast this weekend and you'll all be proud to know I tried it...It wasn't that bad. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We drove to Chicago for Thanksgiving and a big Gration family reunion. It was my whole family, my dad's two sister's families (Kohls and Harberts), my grandparents plus the added spouses and grandkids. We had so much fun together. The Harberts are missionaries in Africa so we don't get to see them very often... plus its rare that all of us can get together at the same time. There were 24 of us and the only person missing was my cousin Alex who is in Kenya right now. We missed you, Al! All of us! :)
Aunt Barb, my mom and sister Katherine.
Harberts came over for dinner the first night.
My family stayed in this huge missionary guesthouse that Aunt Barb had reserved for us. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms, and it had a big kitchen so we could all eat together. It even had a big playroom for the kids so they were really happy!
Dave and I drying some dishes... not sure about the hat. :)
My brother Jonathan and his wife Julie.
Grandpa getting ready for the big meal at the Kohls house.
Yummy appetizers.
My dad and Natalie checking out the turkey decorations.
Look at all that delicious food!!
Aunt Judy managed to get us all around one table!
Brian and my brother DavidJesse teaching the kids to play piano.
The clean-up crew :)
We had so much fun just sitting around talking with each other.
George, Josh, and Jeff watching football in the basement.Brian, Uncle George and Uncle Scott
Grandpa and Dave having a special chat. Grandpa loves to make sure he connects with you about what's going on in your life.
Aunt Judy is an incredible pianist. Not the greatest pic but she played some of her latest for us. So beautiful!My grandparents were missionaries in Africa for many years and have spent their lives serving God to the fullest. They had a special time of sharing some of their stories and challenging us to live for God in whatever capacity that might be. It was a really neat part of Thanksgiving that we will all remember forever.
They had picked out a specific verse for each grandkid (or couple) and written us each personalized letters encouraging and challenging us in our lives. They pray for each one of us every single day. They are incredible people and we are so blessed to come from such a godly heritage! I know they can't check this, but we love you so much!!
They also had picked out curios from Africa for each of us. We got this Masai warrior and giraffe as a reminder of the evening.
Back in the kitchen for more food! :)
On Friday, we went back to the Kohls for Chicago deep dish pizza and more time together.

Katherine reading to Blake and Jesse reading to... Uncle Scott? (Natalie was sitting on her lap but we thought it looked funny. :)

On Saturday, every one came over to the house we were staying in for the day. Grandma with her only great-grandchildren.
Lunch time... looks like everyone was praying but I think they were just enjoying the food. :)
Outside playing croquet. Time to head home! We drove back through the night so the kids could sleep. It works out better for us that way... although it took most of the week to recover... especially since Brian went down to his parents that night for hunting this week. I'll post pictures of that soon. Brian got a buck and a doe and Bill got a doe so far. Be ready, some of the pics are pretty gruesome--not really but this whole hunting thing is new to me. :)