Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

2012 was another huge year for us! But really, what year since we've been married hasn't been huge and full of changes.  I'm not sure we'd know what to do with ourselves if we started to have some downtime.  That may happen in the coming year, now that we're settled into a house on a more long-term basis and are having a second baby, making travel a little more complicated for at least the first few months.




January - moved from SC to Germany, Brady became an international traveler

February - got settled in Germany, Brady turned 2, met our German cousin, Eva, for the first time

March - Nikki turned 26, traveled to Zurich, Switzerland to visit our friend, Nadia, Brady went sledding for the first time in the Swiss Alps, Brady's first Easter egg hunt, visited Heidelberg castle

April - visited the Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and BMW museums, traveled to Munich and Vienna, celebrated our first Easter away from family, met our German cousins, Ingrid and Joseph, for the first time

May - visited Neuschwanstein castle, traveled to Prague and Salzburg, Nikki and Andy celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary, Andy turned 29, our friends, the Reese family, came to visit us, Andy got offered a permanent position at Bosch in Detroit

June - traveled to Paris, took Brady to Disneyland Paris and Legoland Deutschland, came back home to the States after 5 months living in Europe, we found out we were expecting baby #2

July - made and offer on a house that got accepted

August - family vacation to Virginia Beach, we closed on our new house in Michigan, we moved into our new house and began living together as a family for the first time since leaving Germany

September - went to Oktoberfest where Brady wore his authentic lederhosen, Brady started gymnastics classes, went went as a family to the Pitt vs. Virginia Tech game and Pitt won!

October - Brady was Mickey Mouse for Halloween, found out baby #2 was a girl!

November - hosted our first Thanksgiving in Michigan

December - Santa brought Brady a big boy Cars themed room for Christmas, we took a ride on the Polar Express, we went home to Pittsburgh for the holidays, went to NYC to visit Nikki & Brady's 92 year old Oma, Brady became fully potty trained


What we have to look forward to in 2013:

Celebrating Brady's 3rd birthday
Baby Izzie B being born in March
Andy will celebrate his 30th birthday (on Mother's Day)
Nikki & Andy will celebrate 4 years married
Our annual beach vacation

Brady will start preschool in the fall and maybe try a few new activites
Nikki & Andy hope to take a trip to Vegas in the fall

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!!!




We are finally getting back into our routine, so I have time to sit down and post about our Christmas break.  Andy is very lucky to work in the auto industry in Detroit, since the unions shut down between Christmas and New Years, so his company also shuts down and it's paid holiday.  It's not the same deal throughout Bosch, however, and when we lived down South, we had to take days off to go home for the whole week.  This year, since Christmas and Christmas Eve fell on a Monday and Tuesday, we got a little extra time off.  Andy was off for almost two full weeks, from December 21 to January 1.
 


I never got the chance to show off our decorations in our house, so I thought this would be a good opportunity.  I was thrilled to finally have a house and be able to put up two trees (one for the kids from Santa and another for us to give family gifts).  As you can see, Izzie B already had her stocking up, although it won't be filled until next year.



This was also the first year, we were able to do outside decorations.  I guess we could've done them last year in our rental house, but we figured that we'd wait until we were settled.  With so much going on, we decided to get a few things and we can add to the collection over the next couple of years.









Every year, both me and my mom send out Christmas cards to friends and family.  This is my mom's card.  The last few years, she's had to do a multi-pic card because it's hard to get us all together.  Also, this was Kiro's first appearance on a Christmas card.



This was our card this year.  We had a ton of pictures to work with, so it was hard to narrow it down to just a few.  Since we've had Brady, we always have one picture of us on the fireplace with him in his Christmas outfit (bottom left).



I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Brady over all of his Christmases so far.  It's crazy how much he's grown!



A lot of people I know who are pregnant over the holiday season were taking advantage and wrapping their bellies in ribbon and taking a bump pic in front of the tree.  I'd never thought of this before (as I was 4 weeks further along with Brady at Christmas), so I thought it would be fun.  I thought it would be even better to get Brady in on the fun and have him kiss my belly.  It wasn't hard to get him to do as he always loves kissing Izzie or talking to her.



Andy's first morning off was a Friday and Brady had his final gymnastics class of the session.  That meant we couldn't leave for Pittsburgh until around noon.  Of course, there was a huge winter storm system that was going to hit northern Ohio and Pittsburgh that day.  We had many plans for that evening and the next morning, so we decided we would drive through.  It turned out to not be much at all and only hit about 30 miles of bad roads near Cleveland.

We spent the next few days relaxing with different parts of our families and celebrating both Christmas Eve and Christmas.  If we're able, we attempt to drive to New York City, where my 92 year old Oma (grandma) lives.  We were unable to make it work last year, so it had been two years and Brady was only 10 months old at the time.  This year, we were all able to make the trip, and the plan was the leave the day after Christmas.  Of course, another winter storm was headed our way, but from the weather reports, it was supposed to be behind us, and if we got out early enough, we'd beat it.  With the last storm not living up to the hype, I wasn't at all concerned.  All Andy could remember was that two years prior, we'd literally driven into a blizzard to get to NYC and then were snowed in for three days.






Well, I guess my jokes about storms not living up to the hype caught up to me.  The storm ended up hitting us all the way to New Jersey.  We averaged about 30 miles per hour, the roads were almost untouched by plows (though we counted dozens plowing on the opposite side of the turnpike).  There were one-car accidents along the whole way and even my dad skidded off the road at one point (although he was doing something you're not legally allowed to do in a car; ahem texting).  It normally takes us five hours to cross the entire state of Pennsylvania and it took us nine!  Fortunately, once we hit Jersey it was just rain, but that still slows things down when it comes to traffic.  We left early enough that we should've been there by early-afternoon and we ended up getting there after 6PM and thus hit NYC rush hour traffic.  The whole trip should take about seven hours and took eleven when all was said and done.  It was exhausting!  You can see a pic of the roads above, but they got way worse than that.



Brady was amazed by all the snow as he hadn't seen any snow this year.  If you look at all the time we spent down South, Brady has only had about 3/4 of one winter in his whole life.



My Oma was thrilled to see us all (we haven't all been up at the same time since before Andy and I got married).  She has a row house with three levels and usually rents out the third level.  This summer her tenant passed away, so she's fixing up the apartment upstairs.  With all the boys there, it was the perfect opportunity to paint it.  With four guys, it only took them a day and a half (keep in mind it took Andy a whole week to paint Brady's room by himself).  You can see my Oma sitting in a chair supervising.



We were due to leave that Saturday to make it home in time for Andy's diaper party.  We looked at the weather and saw that again we'd be facing another winter storm.  We made the snap decision (all of us kids at least), to leave Friday night after dinner and drive straight through the night.  My parents waited out the storm and left on Sunday morning.  We got home around 3AM and only saw the slightest amount of snow when we arrived home.



This is 9AM that same morning.  You can see how much snow is on the car and we'd only been home six hours.  We were very glad we drove through the night.



That Sunday, Andy had his diaper party down at Buks's house.  For those who don't know what a diaper party is, I'll explain.  Usually first time parents have a baby shower and receive all the big items necessary for dealing with a baby.  The second time around, you still have all that big stuff, and basically only need clothes (if a different gender) and diapers.  When I was teaching, some of the men had wives who were expecting their second or third child, and they were having diaper parties.  Basically, it's an all male gathering (although I've recently heard of women doing them), where you have beer and pizza, etc, and watch sporting event.  Everyone who comes brings a package of diapers and it helps the new parents out.  We have very generous family and friends and everyone brought large boxes.  We got everything from newborn size through size 3, basically enough to diaper Izzie B for the first four months!  We are very grateful to everyone who came.

We relaxed at my mom's house all of New Year's Eve watching bowl games, etc.  Brady stayed up until midnight for the third straight year (out of three), so we were able to again get video of him watching the ball drop.  That morning, Brady woke up very early crying.  He sleeps in a room with Andy and when Andy called for me, I knew it was bad news.  Brady had been throwing up and he needed help changing him and the sheets.  I went back to bed, but I guess they never did as Brady kept getting sick.  We made the decision not to go to my Mimi's house for dinner and go straight home (we were planning on going home after dinner).  We took a bucket in the car with us and only needed to use it once (thank goodness).  

The next morning, I was feeling iffy, but not sick, and Andy texted from work saying he was feeling pretty bad.  By 11AM Andy was home and very sick (although he was working from home in the periods between being sick).  Brady was much improved and wanted to hang out with daddy.  I fell asleep on the couch watching TV and it took all of my energy to get upstairs to take a nap.  Andy went downstairs to work some more while I slept and I woke up and got sick myself.  I haven't had a stomach bug in 12 years!  I will be more than happy if I go another 12 years before I have another one.  I couldn't be more grateful that Andy was at home because I didn't leave the bed until the next morning.  I was only able to take two bites of bread and drink a glass of ginger ale over the course of that whole night. 

Andy was still iffy enough not to go to work the next day, which was perfect because I was still a little off and I don't know if I'd have been able to drive myself to my doctor's appointment.  I almost passed out while laying down for an ultrasound it was so bad.  It took almost a week to get my appetite back, but it's definitely back now ;)

 

While we were gone our Michigan plates came.  My car had been sporting the SC plates and Andy's had never taken off it's original PA plates.  This was a shocking thing, because in my mind it really made us Michigan residents.  With all of our moving, it's hard to wrap our heads around actually being settled and that we're here for the long haul (we've never lived anywhere longer than a year, so in August will come quite a milestone).  Andy now has a Michigan license, although I still have mine from PA.



Although it's sad that the holidays are over and we took down our decorations, there's so much to keep us busy that we won't miss them.  Brady's birthday is in five weeks and in addition to planning a party for him, we have to get the nursery done and any final prep for Izzie who is due in less than eight weeks.  Still, never a dull moment at the Trapuzzano house.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Brady Builds a Gingerbread House & Bakes Cookies



We had a lot going on with the holidays and traveling home, so I'm just getting around to some of the posts from right before Christmas.  Andy and I have been buying a gingerbread kit, whether it be a tree, house, train, etc, since we started dating.  Last year, Brady was only able to look on and this year we were very excited for him to participate.  We haven't done a big house since our first year together, so that's the kit I grabbed while shopping.  Brady instantly fell in love, calling it his cookie house.  It sat on the counter for about a week before we got around to building it, but Brady never let us forget that we needed to build the cookie house.



Andy has been greatly frustrated in the past with kits that you have to break the pieces apart yourself because they never break evenly on the scored lines.  This kit came with premixed icing and the gingerbread pieces already separated, so he was very happy.  Brady insisted on smelling the gingerbread pieces.  Call it quality control if you will ;)



Brady held onto the gingerbread (or cookie) man while Andy put all the pieces of the house together.



Look at that smile.



He assisted in putting the gingerbread man into the slot.



Brady was a master decorator.  I held onto the icing bag and he told me exactly where to ice, then he put the candy where he wanted.



Deep in concentration.



He was very gentle and put the pieces on without jostling the main house pieces as the icing was drying.






The entire week we were prepping to drive home to Pittsburgh, is always a huge frenzy of cookie baking in our house.  We make several varieties and usually we ice the sugar and gingerbread with royal icing.  Since that contains raw egg whites, it's not safe for small children.  We only iced a few with regular cookie icing last year for Brady and I think he ate a total of two of them.  He's much older now and we knew he'd eat plenty this year.  I bought several bags of cookie icing and sprinkles so that he could decorate the kid safe cookies.  You can see in the picture above that all of those sugar cookies are for him to ice.  That means there was that same amount that we iced with royal icing.  Yep, that's a lot of cookies (and only one of the varieties we make).



I would hold the icing bag over the cookie and he'd use both hands to squeeze out a good amount.  Then he'd use a kid-sized spatula to spread it around (with me guiding when he got a little crazy).



The sprinkles were hit or miss.  Sometimes he'd do a small shake and other times, he'd empty half the bottle.


He loved icing the cookies so much, that he insisted that he help Nana when she was making cookies.  She was using candy melts to ice hers and told him it was too hot, but he was insistent.  He helped her sprinkle, then he helped place Hershey's kisses on pretzels for a fun snack.  He just genuinely loves to help!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Ride on the Polar Express





Last Christmas season, while we were living in South Carolina, I got an email about a Polar Express train ride through the Smokey Mountains.  I discussed it with Andy, and although it was something we'd have liked to do, we thought Brady was a little too young and he probably wouldn't be able to sit still for very long.  This fall, I did a google search to see if there were any in this area (although there aren't any cool mountains).  I found one about an hour north that actually had the train that the movie train was based upon.  We knew Brady could definitely handle the train ride and would even welcome it as he missed the trains in Europe.  He was a great age for it, and it was perfect timing before we had another baby around who would be too little to do these things. 

The tickets I purchased included a one hour train ride to the "North Pole" with hot chocolate on the way, two hours at the North Pole, and then another hour back to the station where we started.  The website said it wouldn't be cancelled for any inclement weather and that if it snowed, the better the experience would be.  It was raining at our house, but the further north we drove, the more snow we saw on the ground.  It was coming down (not in a dangerous way) pretty nicely by the time we made it to Owosso, Michigan where the train would depart.



We had to pick our tickets up an hour before the train was due to arrive, so they had small displays and activities for kids who would have a hard time waiting.  The place was packed with people.






Brady was so excited to see a train and you can see his lips pursed, making the choo choo noise.



Looking out the window, anxiously waiting for the train to move.  They boarded about half an hour before we were due to depart so he had a little wait.



The conductor came by to punch the kids' tickets and was more than willing to take pictures with kids at parents' requests.



Brady enjoyed the hot chocolate on the ride up and when we reached the North Pole, Santa was outside waving in greeting to the train.  This is what we saw when we walked inside the North Pole.



Brady posing with some gingerbread men decorations.



We made sure to visit with Santa first, then it was off to the rides.  They were all included in our ticket price, so Brady bounced from ride to ride.









This was probably Brady's favorite.  He saw it first and begged Andy to take him on the big slide.  Andy was reluctant as he had taken Brady on one at a fair when he was 18 months old and he didn't like it very much.  Brady was insistent and even was patient in the long line for his turn.  He rode it twice and probably would have ridden it more had it not been for the long lines.



His second ride on the train, he was lucky enough to be first in line and got to ride in the engine and ring the bell.






For those who have seen the movie, you'll remember the hobo who rides on the top of the train (and who very well may be a ghost).  We had seen him playing his harmonica against a building on the way out and when we arrived back at the station, he was sitting on top of another car, with a fire, and drinking his cup of coffee.  The little touches were so cute.



When we got back on the train after visiting the North Pole, these were on every seat.  So now, Brady has a bell from Santa so he can always believe.



On the ride home, the conductor came around again and punched out the word BELIEVE in all the kids' tickets.  It was such a cute touch from the movie and something that will be in Brady's memory box for years to come.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Santa's Biggest Gift Ever!!!





You might remember from last year, that we are never in our own home during actual Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so we do Christmas the weekend before we head home to Pittsburgh.  Brady has never known anything different as we moved before he had his very first Christmas.  So, all he knows is that Santa takes care of the little boys and girls who visit family during the holidays a little early so he doesn't have to worry about finding them somewhere else.  We will head home this coming Friday so this past Friday was our "Christmas Eve."

We had a very busy day on Friday.  Brady had gymnastics in the morning, then we headed up to our friends, the Reeses' house so Bethany could watch Brady while I went to Andy's work Christmas party.  We had fun bowling with Andy's co-workers and then had some fun chatting with the Reeses when we went to pick up Brady.  We got home around 8PM and couldn't start any prep until Brady was in bed, which happened around 9:30PM.



Brady put on his Christmas pj's and prepared to do what most kids do on Christmas Eve.  He got his stocking ready and gathered together a plate of cookies and carrots, including a side glass of milk for Santa.



We haven't had an actual mantle since we left Pittsburgh, so Brady had the chance to hang his stocking on the fireplace for the first time.  You can see Izzie B's stocking hanging next to his (although it won't be filled until next year).


Big boy carrying the plate of cookies and carrots all by himself to lay upon the fireplace.  We hung our Santa key on the outside of our door, so Santa could get in much easier than coming down the chimney.



Headed up the stairs to go to sleep and dream of what Santa might bring him.



Getting all tucked in and saying goodnight.  He has no idea this will be his last time sleeping in this room or in this crib.



As soon as he was secured in his room (there is a child-proof knob on the inside of his door for his safety), the elves went to work.  For those who didn't know, his big gift from Santa this year was a big boy bedroom decorated in Disney's Cars.  It's been an idea I've had in my head for over a year and I have been bookmarking decorations and painting ideas ever since.  As long as we were in a house, that's what his main present would be.  We are very fortunate to be in a beautiful house and it was decided early on that he'd get a twin over double bunk bed (as we had no idea at the time what our future children would be), so he'd need the biggest extra room.  This room is directly across the hall from his current room and they share a wall.

Getting this room together has been a huge stressor for us and a lot of work for Andy.  We had to get the beds early enough for my family to come for Thanksgiving.  The beds arrived about 10 days before Thanksgiving, and fortunately, my friend, Dunny, was visiting and could help Andy carry the boxes upstairs.  With 10 days left, we had to buy mattresses and Andy had to paint the room.  We picked out the colors based on the wall border I had bought in August.  Those colors ended up being a yellow above the border and a bright blue below the border.  We bought the paint and Andy only had time available after work to paint the room a week before Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately for us, the previous owners had two daughters, so the extra rooms were very girly.  The big room that Brady would receive had been painted bright purple and bright green.  Andy had to put four coats over a three day period to cover up with the old paint with yellow.  We never imagined that only painting half the room would take go long.  By the Friday night before Thanksgiving, the blue hadn't even been put on.  That Saturday, we went out and bought the mattresses, and Andy started building the beds (with a little help from a work friend to get the top bunk up).

Andy came down Sunday afternoon, asking how many packages of border I had bought.  I told him only two and he said it wasn't going to be enough.  I started to panic because we had bought them on clearance and the package said they were exclusive to only one store.  We started frantically searching online and came across only one on Amazon.  We bought it and sighed in relief.  Too bad, the story didn't end there.  The room was ready enough (walls painted and bed put together) for my brothers to sleep in there over Thanksgiving.  The Saturday after, we had all gone out to dinner and Andy picked up the mail upon arriving home.  We noticed him staring at something for a long time in the kitchen and asked if everything was alright.  He said, "No."  I immediately assumed that we had been shipped the wrong border.  He walks into the room and shows us the packaging.  There is a label for the US postal service with his name on one side and on the opposite side a UPS label with another person's name.  Both were from Amazon fulfillment services, but it had been shipped through the post office, so Andy is the one who got it, regardless of the two labels.  He turned the package upside down, and out comes a package of women's panties.  We all burst into laughter (except Andy of course).  What made it funnier was that the woman they were to be shipped to was named Patty, so the alliteration of Patty's panties had us laughing over and over again (while Andy is on the phone arguing with Amazon).  In the end, Amazon had to refund his money (as there was only one in stock and it got shipped elsewhere), and we were lucky enough to find another on eBay.  We will never forget all that went into preparing this room.

After Thanksgiving, I began to order all the decorations that would make the room unforgettable for Brady.  He's in LOVE with both of the Cars movies and pretty much has them both memorized.  His second birthday was Cars themed due to the second movie having taken place throughout Europe and that's where we were living when he turned two.  If I let him, he'd watch either movie every single day.  He has so many of the characters in various car forms and I think his favorite is Mater.

So, as soon as Brady was in bed, Andy went into the room and began putting everything together.  We had sheets for both beds and a comforter for the bottom double bed.  There were decals placed all over the wall and Brady's personalized birth record and name art hung on the wall.  There were also various items placed around the room.  While Andy was doing this, I started wrapping the door and printing out a message from Santa so Brady would know to go upstairs and find the room.  I then went downstairs and wrapped any presents that still needed wrapped (including Andy's).  By the time we were done with that, it was about midnight.  There were a few larger items from us and my mom that needed assembly (as they came in brown boxes with no pictures and just the pieces inside).  At 1AM, I couldn't stay up any longer and headed for bed.  Andy had only finished one of the large items and was up until 3AM completing the other.  We knew it would be worth all the hard work when we would see Brady's reaction in only a few short hours.



All the stockings filled.



We now have two trees.  This one is the kids' tree with non-breakable ornaments.  It's where Santa places his gifts.  You can see there are only about five small things as the room was such a huge deal.



This is our bigger tree that we bought last year after Christmas.  It has all of our breakable ornaments and is where we place all gifts from us to the kids and to each other.  I think it's great to have two trees, no only to have the ability to use more ornaments, but so that there is a differentiation between the gifts Santa brings and the ones they get from mom and dad.  The items wrapped in the bright green Toy Story paper were sent from other family and friends.  We spoil him a little, but it would be a little excessive if we were the ones who got him all of these in addition to the room.



Santa had left a note by the half eaten cookies and carrots, telling Brady that his big surprise was upstairs.  It was Andy's idea to leave a trail of cars to lead him there.






You can see the wrapped door on the left and Brady was sleeping in the room on the right.  He walked out of his room and was very concerned that Mater was on the floor (he's very good about picking up all his toys before bed).



Running up to see if Santa ate the milk and cookies.



Look at that smile and he hasn't even opened any gifts yet.  Christmas is so magical for kids, and I wish we could keep it that way for him forever.



The half eaten plate of food, empty milk glass, the key returned, and the special note for Brady from Santa.  Brady used this opportunity to eat the rest of the cookie that was left behind.



Ready to follow the cars to find his big surprise.



Following the cars upstairs.  He ran down the hallway, saying, "Nuh uh Ho Ho.  No cars on the stairs."  This kid is such a stickler for the rules and was even trying to pick up the cars on his way up the stairs.



Waiting in the hallway for the all clear from Andy who went in first to videotape.



He was so overwhelmed by what he saw when he opened the door.  He did initially say cool, but wouldn't go more than a few steps inside without me coming in too.



Checking out the Cars light up traffic light.



A view of the top bunk and some wall decorations.



Climbing up to the top bunk.  Initially when he came in, he was telling us the bed was too high.  We have removed the ladder to keep him safe when he's in the room without supervision.  There won't be much use for it unless we have guests.  Two small kids could easily sleep together on the bottom bunk.



Checking to make sure the bed is nice and comfy.



Playing with the racetrack floor mat.






Finally up on the top bunk.



After he was done scoping out his room, it was time to come downstairs to check out what Santa had left under the tree.






A fire truck!  He did ask Santa for cars and trucks, so he must have been listening.



A Cars basketball hoop for the bath.  He'd also gotten a set of Cars kids plates.



And a helicopter.  This kid was so happy.



Time for the big presents.  This one is from Nana and Dubby.  They had the foresight to send it straight to us as it would be difficult to get home in our car after Christmas.  They were right as it came in two boxes, each twice the size of Brady.









Also, from Nana and Dubby a set of play food for the kitchen.



His Aunt Dunny sent him a Little People Buzz Lightyear with his rocket ship.  He was so excited he wouldn't even look up when I took pictures.



Now time for the presents from mom and dad.  First up : Candy Land and a digital camera.



The poor boy is so neat that every time he ripped off a piece of wrapping paper, he walked over to the pile to keep it together.



A huge car track!



The biggest gift from us was a Bosch workbench.  Bosch toys were plentiful in Europe and we did get him a set of tools while we were there as we figured it was our only opportunity.  One day I decided to search Bosch on Toys R Us and was lucky enough to find a few things that were sold online only.









Opening presents from his stocking.






The aftermath.  In addition to the gifts you saw him open, he also got a shopping cart, a few little wheelies cars for that track, and two wooden trains to play with on the Brio tracks that are on loan from his Uncle Alex.  It seems like a lot, but I'm a bargain shopper, so I didn't pay full price for anything.  The room was a large expense, but that was something he'd need regardless.



Andy was so pleased, saying it sounded like Christmas morning, as all we heard were the sounds of the toys being played with.  He's so funny.  He thanked Andy for the bedroom and thought the small monster truck that Andy bought him was from Santa.  I guess he figures Santa only brought those items he'd asked him for.



Brady couldn't wait to have Andy put together the car track and played with it most of the day.



He stayed in his pj's all day.  He only changed after his bath into a fresh pair of pj's.



We had exchanged gifts with the Reese kids the night before while they were watching Brady for us.  Brady got Sam some emergency trucks that made noise and lit up, and he got Ainsley a princess sticker maker.  They got him a cool Cars sitting pillow and an amazing book about Santa coming to Michigan!





Last year, Andy and I didn't exchange gifts for almost any occasion.  For Christmas, we had gone to Disney, and we celebrated all birthdays and anniversaries in Europe by taking trips.  This Christmas, we didn't want to spend a ton of money, but it's still hard to buy for each other, as there aren't many things that we really need.  I had initially thought of getting Andy a Keurig coffee maker, but he started making comments about how much he disliked them.  Instead I settled on the soda stream so he could make pop at home.  He was really happy with it and couldn't wait to test it out.  It came with multiple sample flavors, and I bought him some extra bottles and a few larger flavor mixes.  It's really nice because we have a can and bottle deposit in Michigan which is really a pain.  What's great for me is that the diet mixes don't contain aspertame, which I'm not allowed to have during pregnancy.  Andy bought me two charms for my bracelet.  The first was an Eiffel Tower charm as we traveled to Paris earlier this year and I have no idea of the second as it's still on it's way.

We each took Brady to the store to buy a present for the other parent.  It wasn't anything big and we told each other not to let him go crazy.  For Andy, he picked out a Starbucks package of coffee grounds that came with a hot thermal mug.  He also picked out a cold coffee cup with a straw as Andy loves iced coffee and often drinks it in a regular drinking glass.  For me, he picked out a little girl's Minnie Mouse watch (which I'll save for Izzie someday), and some European chocolates.  I can't wait until next year when I can take him to the toy store to pick out a gift for Izzie.

We had an amazing Christmas at home and it's still only the 16th!  We have so many more family and friends to see.  The best part about working in the auto industry in Detroit is that the auto unions shut down, so we get off the whole week between Christmas and New Years.  This year we will have off from this coming Friday the 21st until New Years Day.  We spend some time in Pittsburgh and some time in NYC visiting my Oma.  There are so many people to see and it never feels like enough time.