We LOVE wintertime and so you can imagine our excitement over the first real snowfall yesterday afternoon. We've always been fans of the holiday season, but this year in particular has been extra special because Natalie is just old enough to get excited about things which, in turn, has amped up our desire to do more. 

We wrapped up Thanksgiving weekend by getting our very first real tree from Bosch Tree Farm in Allendale. Jeff cut the tree down and dragged it to the barn while Natalie and I watched and ate donuts. It was a first time family tradition that I could get used to! 

That same night we celebrated Friends Thanksgiving with our Calvin Christian friends - an annual tradition that's been going on for more than 10 years - of course I haven't been part of all 10. I have, however, been there since the beginning of baby making which seems to get more and more out of hand every year. Trying to capture all the kids in one place was quite the debacle this year and I can't imagine it's going to get easier anytime soon! We always do soup and salad which is a nice break from the heavy meals that precede it. 

 Most (not all) of our kids at Friends Thanksgiving this year. 

Most (not all) of our kids at Friends Thanksgiving this year. 

Thursday was the Annual Shop Hop which takes place practically in our backyard. This year I attended with the neighbor girls. We started in Eastown, a short walk from our front doors and visited a few shops before hoping the trolly over to Fulton. We grabbed treats at Vans and Cakabakery followed by some more shopping and later ended on Wealthy with dinner at Donkey. I bought a winter hat for myself and a candle, but completely failed at finding any other antique treasures to add to our collection at home. 

On Friday we headed downtown to Rosa Parks Circle for the official lighting of the Grand Rapids Christmas Tree in front of the GRAM. It was also the grand opening of the ice rink. The event itself left some major room for improvement: the carolers and skating performance seemed to be tossed together last minute and the special guests (the mayor and Santa) were late! But despite the event coordination, it was nice to get outside and see the beautiful tree in our city's center as a family. 

And this weekend we joined our friends Petrit and Allison and their son Ari at the Fredrick Meijer Gardens Christmas Event. On display were Christmas trees from around the world as well as their spectacular train display. Natalie loved the train maybe as much as Jeff. They had a wonderful choir who sang carols for over an hour and provided cookies! 

Our tree is up, our house is wired with lights, presents wrapped and we're ready to celebrate! We're looking forward to Christmas cookies and time with family. If we don't get in another post before the 25th, Merry Christmas to you and yours!