Natalie and Jeff enjoying our very own winter wonderland.

Natalie and Jeff enjoying our very own winter wonderland.

December has been full of baking cookies, family time, conversations with friends over dinner and finishing the playroom in the attic. Our stomachs are full and our hearts are happy and grateful. 

Our holiday was sadly not off to the happiest of starts with the unexpected passing of Jeff's Grandma Koopman the week before Christmas. She was 84 and arrived at the hospital with trouble breathing where they found she had a large blood clot in her leg - something that hits pretty close to home with my history with DVTs. Portions of the clot traveled to her lungs which caused the trouble breathing and her eventual passing. Family gathered in Hudsonville for the funeral and visitation services where we honored her life.

But where one door closes we can always hope a window near by opens. That same week Grandma Bee passed away I visited the doctor and was surprised by some very good news. This second pregnancy has been much less eventful than the first and so far there are no signs of blood clots which means we get to do this labor and delivery the good ole fashioned way. For us this means no IVC filter surgery and no inducing of labor. I recall last time being sad that we wouldn't get to experience the whole water breaking ordeal and rushing to the hospital... but this time I'm left in a nervous/excited state of mind because the planner in me now has to deal with the unexpected wait time of when will this actually happen?! Overall, this is excellent news and we are thrilled. 

Speaking of babies, we now have a place to store all of the kids stuff in our home: the playroom is finally complete! I searched back in our photo archive to find 'before' photos and discovered the images dated all the way back to December of 2015 which means this project has taken us over a year. Whew. But it's already proving to be well worth the wait. All the saved dollars on the heating bill aside (the new insulation is incredible and totally worth the cost), the room is such a fun space for Natalie and her soon to join brother to hang out on cold/rainy days when they can't go outside. The once unused space is now totally open for business. 

This year in particular, December has been a season of firsts for us. With a growing family and with Natalie now old enough to really experience things, we started some family traditions: chopping down a real tree (they are 100% recyclable, you know?), baking Christmas cookies using my Grandma DeKoekkoeks cookie press and hanging lights outside on our house - so fun and totally addicting! This year we were happy to slow our pace and visit with friends and family over dinner together and enjoyed all the slower moments. 

 Spritz cookies using my Grandmas cookie press. 

Spritz cookies using my Grandmas cookie press. 

We kicked off our holiday celebrations with our annual neighborhood progressive dinner party. We love our block and really appreciate having fun people as neighbors.  Having grown up in the country where neighbors were nonexistent, being part of a community like this is something I've always hoped for when I had a family of my own. Grabbing drinks together and cheers'ing to Christmas is one thing, but being able to call your neighbor to borrow a ladle or heck, watch your kid for an hour last minute is something you don't find everyday. And calling our neighbor last minute might come in handy here pretty soon when the unexpected arrival of baby happens! 

 Natalie spent a lot of time this month checking out the tree at home. 

Natalie spent a lot of time this month checking out the tree at home. 

And last weekend we spent all of our time with family, first in Schoolcraft with the Smiths followed by a few days in Rockford on the lake with the Kladders. Like I said, Christmas this year was different and by different I mean way more fun because Natalie totally 'got it.' She opened presents, ate the cookies and watched the Christmas shows. Her genuine excitement added that touch of magic that had been missing before. 

As we head straight for the New Year, we wish you and your family all the best for fresh and happy beginnings. Enjoy all of the slower moments! 

 

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