Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Summers Family Year in Review - Merry Christmas

The letter was written, the cards were bought but most were not sent out.
Not going to give excuses, I'm just hoping to do better next year.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours. It’s hard to believe that 2009 is already coming to an end. The majority of the year just flew by, while some days seemed like they lasted forever. This has been a year full of ups and downs for our family. Our faith has been tested, but our love for one another is stronger. Our family has grown in many ways and we have truly been blessed.

In January, Benjamin turned 2 years old. He is a tender hearted child with a lot of spunk. He is fun and funny and adds so much to our family. He likes to laugh, imitate his brother and wrestle with his dad. He’s very independent and loves to do big boy things. He’s been potty trained and sleeping in a big boy bed since March and started two day a week preschool in August. January was an extra exciting month for us because we found out that we were being blessed with our third child. We couldn’t have been happier.

In March, Jack turned 4 years old. He is an intelligent, creative and highly passionate child. He is a good big brother who deeply loves his siblings. He enjoys being a teacher and the leader. He loves reading, writing, role playing and dress up. He loves figuring out puzzles and mazes and spending time with his parents. He’s a chatter box and a story teller. Our first born has quickly grown into a big boy. March was also the month when we got some news about the baby. We were overjoyed to find out that the baby was a little girl, but saddened to find out that she had Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. It was a very difficult time for our family. There were so many unknowns and so many unanswered questions. As a stay at home mom Nicole had little time to grieve and deal with her emotions during the day. The boys kept her very busy which in retrospect was a great thing. They were busy attending classes at the nature center, going to story time and frequenting all of the local parks. The days were full and fun, but also tiring. The boys have LOTS of energy!

We were very lucky to have a few fun family getaways this year. We chose to stay pretty close to home, but they were super fun just the same. We went to Carlsbad to go to LegoLand, Wrightwood to take the boys sledding, camping in Yosemite and at Bolsa Chica State Beach and even a weekend in Escondido.

On July 29, 2009, at 2:10am our baby girl came into the world. She was 5 weeks early but apparently ready to start the fun. She weighed 4 lbs 9.5 oz and was 16 inches long – pretty tiny. We named her Annabelle Grace Flower Summers. Side note: We named her Annabelle Grace, the boys named her Flower. They called her Flower throughout the pregnancy and when we asked Jack why they called her that, he promptly told us that it was because a flower is the most beautiful thing in the world. We thought it was sweet but never intended to add it to her birth certificate. However, that all changed once she arrived. Right after her birth we were reminded by one of Annabelle’s doctors how lucky she was to have her big brothers to love and protect her always. He was right and we felt that they deserved to have a say in naming her. So that is how she got her beautiful (and long) name. The boys just adore her and they love to make her smile.

Annabelle had her back closure surgery the day she was born and had her shunt inserted (for the hydrocephalus) 5 days later. She has had four surgeries in total and we are hoping that is it for a long while. She is a strong little girl with an amazing personality and spirit. She is patient, happy and her eyes sparkle when she smiles. She has taught us so much about life and what really matters in these 4 ½ months she has been here. She is just a joy and has truly completed our family. We feel so blessed to be her parents.

We truly feel blessed about so many things. This year we have seen the absolute best in people – our family, our friends and even strangers. People have rallied around us to support us during some of the most difficult days we have ever experienced. We have been showered with love and support, in so many ways – food, financial support for Annabelle’s medical bills, babysitting, non-stop prayers, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, countless e-mails and cards reminding us that we are not alone in this journey. We have even made amazing new friends who are walking this same journey with their families. Our lives and our hearts have been forever changed this year. Although, this has been a difficult year for us, when reflecting back upon the year it is the happy and special moments that clearly overshadow the more difficult days. We feel so blessed to be starting 2010 together as a family of five. We are confident that this next year will be even more blessed and more amazing! We hope that the coming year brings you and your family all of love, peace, health and happiness that you deserve.

All our love – The Summers Family

Please feel free to check out our family blog throughout the year:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Night out with Jack: 12/13

On Sunday, December 13th, Jack and I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet together. The performance was at Golden West College in Huntington Beach at 5pm.

Jack said he loved everything about the night! He loved that it was just he and I going. He loved our seats (3rd row). He loved that the performance was in the evening - that made it extra special and he seemed to love everything about the performance. He sat so quietly with a huge smile on his face through the whole first half. He thought intermission was pretty cool as well. He got a little ancy toward the end but I was extremely proud of how well he behaved.

It was the beginning of a special tradition I look forward to continuing with him.

Night out WITHOUT our kids! 12/12/09

You all know that is a big deal for us! So we had to take a picture :-)
Branden's department at work had their Annual Christmas party and thankfully my Mom was willing to watch the kids. It was our first time leaving all three kids, and it felt great! We had a fun time eating, drinking and visiting with his co-workers and their significant others. The night ended with an intense and always funny gift exchange.

The boys wanted to join in the picture taking before we left

Monday, December 28, 2009

Me and My Boys Being Silly

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2nd Annual Christmas Brunch with Friends

It was a beautiful, sunny day with good friends. We sat outside and enjoyed the great food and drinks while trying to keep all of our kids from hurting each other - ahh so relaxing (ha ha)

John and Lisa - our gracious hosts

Elmo & Tara

Matthew, Janine & little Issabella

It was so nice that Theresa's mom was able to join Dan & Theresa this year. I really enjoyed chatting with her. We hope she has a safe trip back to Utah.

Yeah, we actually got a family picture.

Unfortunately, Annabelle slept through most of the party

The kids all watched in amazement as Theresa "made" snow for them

What fun! The kids were super cute.

We ended the morning with a small gift exchange for the kids.

It was once again a GREAT way to start off Christmas week.
We hope that your Christmas was super special we hope to see each of you more in the new year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Benjamin our helper

Benjamin likes to be a helper. He "helps" with the laundry, the dishes and cooking. What he LOVES most is to help bathe his sister. Normally, this is not a problem except last Monday he had been sick. I didn't think it was a very good idea for him to be so close to her, he did not agree. He threw a major fit when I told him he couldn't help this time. Thankfully, Branden saved the day by giving him this mask to wear. He thought it was super cool. Annabelle just stared at him the whole time. It was pretty funny!

Raising A Reader Graduation 12-11-09

The Raising A Reader mission is to foster healthy brain development, parent-child bonding and early literacy skills critical for school success by engaging parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” with their children from birth to age five.

We have been lucky enough to have this program available at the boys preschool for the last two years. We love reading with the kids and it's fun to get the different books each week. Many are bilingual reading books or multi-cultural tales so its a great opportunity for us to be exposed to new and different books than we would have probably not chosen during our library visit. The boys were each awarded a certificate of completion as well as a book bag full of books. We hope their love of reading with continue to grow into adulthood.

New Shoes

Jack loves his new shoes so much he asked if he could sleep in them. Branden was worried that he wouldn't be comfortable and wanted to say no. I knew that wouldn't be the case so we agreed and said it was fine. He sure looks comfortable to me. Kids are so funny!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

He is such a good big brother: 12/9

Jack was super excited when I finally agreed to let him hold Annabelle

Jack singing "rock-a-bye baby" to Annabelle

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hanging the Christmas Lights - 11/29/09

The boys thought it was really cool that their dad let them go on the roof to "help"

Branden did a GREAT job getting the lights up this year. He knows that I love having them up for the holidays and he got them up without me even having to ask - what a guy :-). I know it's was a lot of work and I truly appreciate your hard work honey!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Decorating the Tree: 11/28/2009

Decorating the Christmas tree was always a big deal for me when I was growing up. I vividly remember how we would carefully take out each ornament from the box and we would take turns putting them on the tree. If I remember correctly my brother and I enjoyed it the most. We always played Christmas music and drank hot chocolate. It was a special start to the Christmas season. Branden and I have tried to create special memories like this for our children. Jack is just like me (in SO many ways) - he LOVES the decorating and preparing part of the holidays. He was digging into the Christmas bins and hanging stuff all over the house before I could even get the hot chocolate made and the music on. His excitement was fun though. He immediately put on the santa hat and went to work on the snow flakes in the window. He took a lot of pride in his decorating this year - it was very sweet.

We had to get out last year's reindeer hats we made for a few quick photo's

Benjamin didn't take his nap so he fell asleep on the couch waiting for Branden to bring in all of the Christmas decorations. He slowly but surely woke to join in the fun.

Branden put the star on a bit premature for my liking but it did look pretty the whole time
Align Center
Annabelle was asleep for most of the decorating but I wanted a least one picture to prove she was there

I love being together as a family!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walking in Naples

We bundled up and headed down to Naples to look at the lights. Annabelle was awake for awhile in her stroller, but eventually drifted off to sleep as we strolled along. Because it was only the Friday after Thanksgiving it wasn't crowded at all and the boys could run up ahead of us without the fear of getting lost in the crowd. It made for a very nice and relaxing evening.

The boys loved looking at all of the lights on the houses across the water and the decorated boats. They always seemed to find the odd or funny statue/decoration to make up a story about (Christmas Pirate, Hawaiian Santa......)

They can be so sweet to one another. I am so happy they have each other

Me and my boys

The boys were having so much fun dancing around the fountain.

A little rest after their dance performance