Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

2013 started with so much promise and it certainly didn't turn out quite how we'd hoped.  We went into the year looking forward to welcoming our little girl and while we added to our family, we lost so many of those close to us.  No one should have to go through a year like this, losing eight loved ones between January and August, with three occurring in one weekend (two on the same day).  The stress levels have been through the roof and the grief has been unlike anything we've ever experienced. 

While Andy and I shared the burden with four losses each, it's the children who suffer the most and they don't even realize it yet.  They lost both of their great-grandpas (one before Izzie was even born), several cousins, a great-great uncle, a great-great aunt, and a family friend.  Only two of the many that we lost this year even got to meet Izzie in person, and thankfully, Andy's grandpa was one of them.  He was Andy's mom's dad, so it was heartwarming to hear him tell all the nurses that Brady Charles was named for him (his first names was Charles) and Isabella Betsy was named for his late daughter, Betsy.  He loved that she had red hair, too.  We knew that we were walking a thin line with so many older relatives, but I don't think we could've ever imagined losing so many so quickly.  This was what we were terrified of when we left for Europe and are so grateful we were back stateside before this all happened.

We are more than ready to have 2013 in the rear-view mirror and it almost doesn't seem fair to Izzie to be overshadowed by so much sadness and everyone saying it was one of the worst years we've had.  Our kids continue to bring so much joy to our lives and they're the ones we cling to in times of grief.  Izzie had so many firsts this year and hopefully in the end, that's what will matter when we look back, so here are all the things that happened for us in 2013.

January - Brady went to the dentist for the first time, we visited the Detroit auto show

February - Brady turned 3 and we celebrated with his first ever birthday party with the theme of Pixar's Up, we finished painting and decorating Izzie B's nursery

March - Nikki turned 27, Izzie B was born making Brady a big brother and expanding our family to four members, Izzie B's first Easter

April - Brady started soccer, Izzie's first trip to Pittsburgh

May - Nikki and Andy celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary, Andy turned 30 on Mother's Day

June - Izzie B was baptized, Brady spent a week in Pittsburgh with his Nana and Dubby all by himself, the kids attended both their first funeral and first wedding

July - family vacation to Virginia Beach, Izzie began sitting up by herself

August - Izzie started crawling

September - Brady started preschool, we went to two Pitt games, Izzie started eating solid foods

October - Brady and Izzie were owls for Halloween

November - Izzie started pulling up and cruising around furniture, Izzie got her first two teeth, we hosted our second annual Thanksgiving in Detroit

December - Izzie started walking, Izzie B's first Christmas, we traveled to NYC to visit Nikki and the kids' Oma, the kids visited Manhattan for the first time.

What we have to look forward to in 2014:

Celebrating Brady's 4th birthday and Izzie B's 1st birthday
Nikki & Andy will celebrate 5 years married
A trip to California for Nikki's brother, Chris's, college graduation, which will include a trip down the coast to Disneyland, Legoland, and San Diego
Virginia Beach family vacation
Nikki's 10 year high school reunion
Thinking about baby #3

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trip to NYC 2013

Almost every year between Christmas and New Years, we head to New York to visit my Oma.  Sometimes we have the time and opportunity to go into the city (she lives in Queens) and this was the first time we've had the chance since the kids have been with us.  I was beyond excited to share my love of NYC with my kids for their first trip into Manhattan. 

We drove in the day after Christmas, and had a family dinner, getting to spend some time with my 93 year old Oma.  She'd only ever seen pictures of Izzie, so she was beyond thrilled to meet her in person.  My dad is an only child, so my kids are the only great-grandchildren she has.

Oma lives about 11 blocks from the end of one of the many subway lines, so we got up and walked (both my brothers came with us) to the subway.  Because of all the stops, it took us about 40 minutes to reach our destination, which was . .

Rockefeller Plaza!  I thought it would be so fun for my kids to see the big tree.

Family photo op.  My brother was not at all pleased to be taking pics like a tourist.  He stayed behind when we all went home and went to Times Square for New Years Eve with some friends.

We walked down to Times Square.

A stop for lunch at Bubba Gump's in Times Square.

We made a stop at the Toys R Us in Times Square where the kids met Geoffrey!

A few stores down was the Disney Store and that's where Izzie passed out.  She remained asleep the entire rest of our time in Manhattan until we were ready to take a subway back home.  After Times Square, we walked down to Herald Square to Macy's.  My parents have gone to the Thanksgiving Parade (and left us kids at home) so that's something I'd like to do when the kids are older.

We hopped on a subway and went all the way downtown to the World Trade Center to check out the almost completed Freedom Tower.  It looks beautiful!  We wanted to see the memorial fountains, but with so much construction still underway and sunset quickly approaching, we decided that could wait for another time.

When we got back to Queens, I showed Izzie one of the two souvenirs I bought her at the Disney Store.  I had to get this Statue of Liberty Minnie because you can't get that anywhere else.  I also grabbed her an Ariel bodysuit.  We are getting excited for our trip to Disneyland in just over four months!

The day after our trip into Manhattan, the weather was mild and almost 50 degrees, so we walked the four blocks to the park my brothers and I grew up going to every summer when we came to visit.  The kids were glad to get out of the house and Izzie was laughing so hard on the swings.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa Comes to Michigan 2013

We've never been in our own home on Christmas day since Brady was born, so Santa comes early to our house, knowing we'll be away.  I'm sure it will be like this until the kids are grown and start coming with their families to our house for the holidays.  I joke with Andy that while Brady may end up with his wife's family, but at least we know Izzie will be with us.  It seems like a default that people tend to spend the majority of the holidays with the woman's side of the family.

Brady was very upset leaving cookies for Santa because he wanted some.  He hoped that Santa wouldn't eat them all and was kinda bummed when we wouldn't let him eat what was left of the half eaten cookie left behind.

Going to look at presents!  Santa uses his own special paper so the kids know which gifts are theirs.

Izzie was watching Brady open presents instead of opening her own.  Next year will be madness for sure once she figures things out.

Finally getting a few tears in.

Last April, Brady threw a fit in the Stride Rite when he saw this toy and I wouldn't buy it for him.  Santa must've known he really wanted it.

Brady opened most of his presents before we got into Izzie's so he could help.

Izzie loves playing with Brady's Scout, so now she has Violet who will say her name instead of Brady's.

Andy catching a few videos of Izzie standing alone.  She started walking all the way across the room this day!

The cutest toy piggy bank!  I'd never seen this before and had to get it for Izzie.  It was so hard finding things for her this year because we had so many of the basic baby toys leftover from Brady.

Brady is Minion obsessed!  He was so excited when he opened this.

He got both Despicable Me movies on Blu-ray.  We've watched them every day since.

The hot toy for girls this year.  The Fisher Price Klip Klop Castle.

The biggest hit of the day was the present sent by Aunt Dunny.  Izzie didn't care much for the first few gifts she opened, but this one kept her attention.  She didn't care about any presents that came after it either.

Brady's gift from Aunt Dunny was a LeapReader.  We are very excited to use it!

A snow shovel!  Brady always wanted to go out with Andy and shovel last year and now he can.

A Switch N Go Dino.  This is one of the items Brady specifically asked Santa for.  He even narrowed down which particular dino he wanted.

A cool Cars suitcase for when we go to California in May and go to Cars Land!

Once we broke open the magical mirror toy for Izzie, all she wanted to do was put on the lipstick.  What a girly girl.

The big finale.

The hot baby toy from last year that I got on clearance for more than half of this summer.  It's gigantic!  Brady loves playing with it too.

Izzie thought some of Brady's toys were pretty cool too.

I love this picture of her.  It's one of the few where I can see the similarity between her and Brady as babies.

We had gone to see Frozen after Thanksgiving and I was thrilled to see a new redheaded princess for Izzie to admire.  Brady got Izzie this Anna doll for Christmas.

I love that little stinker's face!

She's such a ham and in this pic you can really see her two tiny teeth!