Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Festivities

We had a lovely Christmas at home this year. We really love family, but it was so nice to be able to set some of our own traditions and be together. We tried some new traditions, and stuck with some old ones, but all in all, it was a really fun, really great experience. We tried to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. We acted out the Nativity on Christmas Eve, talked about Jesus in the morning before we opened presents, Santa even wrote a note reminding us to think of Jesus. One of the new traditions that I have been wanting to do for a few years now, is to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and eat cake at some time during the day. That one is definitely a keeper. Everyone enjoyed it!

Getting ready to act out the nativity. Josh is pretty excited to play the part of Joseph.

And Mary was great with child...

Mary and Joseph

What a cute donkey!

Luvin' on the baby. He's going to make a great daddy someday.
I was the angel.

Josh couldn't get enough of the donkey rides.

All the gifts and lights.

I loved my little set up this year.

This is what the kids saw when they first came down. We tried to help them remember that this was all about Jesus.

Going through the stockings.

So excited for the train sets! Especially me...I was really excited!

No Heather, that's not a hat.

I've never seen anyone as excited for a blue rubber ball!

Daniel got a standing desk for Christmas. When he showed his new standing desk to 4 of his colleagues (each at different times). Three of those 4 independently quipped "So, is the treadmill going right here in front of the desk?"

Family photo

Love, love, loves the trains.

Setting up the marble run.

Singing Happy Birthday to Jesus

Blowing  out the candles.

Still at it...

I was home when my present arrived in the mail, and because the box was so thin I thought it was a book (we had recently read "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and Daniel had mentioned he really wanted to get the book). Needless to say I was NOT excited. This is the first time in our marriage Daniel has been able to pull off a good surprise without spilling the beans!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The First Part of December

We started off December with a fresh blanket of deep snow. I love the first real snow. The snow that sticks. It's so beautiful. So majestic. So happy. Then the new year comes and it gets really old, really quick. But the first snow is always a lovely thing. Snowball fights, shoveling, snow angels, cold fingers, hot chocolate, these are all the things to look forward to when it first snows...ok I don't know if I'm ever super excited about cold fingers, but I definitely get excited about hot chocolate!

Snow covered trees

So pretty...

Yearly winter family photo

Daddy about to throw a big snow ball at Mommy. Good thing I had the camera!

Trying to catch a snowball. Not so successfully.

Our angel in the snow.


I made falafel for the first time. Every one loved it! I don't mind saying that it was just as good, if not better than our local (and pretty authentic) falafel restaurant.

Heather received a medal for being the top reader in her class! We are so proud of Heather and her love for books!
And then...the snow melts. And it's really wet and muddy, and there are puddles everywhere...ick. But if you're a kid, you just can't resist jumping in the puddles. I even eventually joined in the fun.  It's true. I ought to jump in puddles more often, it relieves stress.  The kids were proud of their wet, muddy pants and coats. I tolerated it, saying to myself that they are only kids once. (I managed to only get wet, not muddy.)

Josh got stuck in the bush while fetching a ball. He was sad about it at first, until we helped him realize how funny it was, and he felt much better.

A happy helper.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Card 2013

Last year we took the traditional route and sent our Christmas card out to friends and family the old-fashioned way: printed the cards, bought a big stack of stamps & envelopes, and spent hours hand-writing, stuffing, and sealing the little packages of Standage Family Christmas joy.

As much as we enjoy mailing Christmas cards (and receiving them in our mailbox), we just couldn't resist the temptation to send out our Christmas card electronically this year. One benefit to this is that we are able to pack a bunch more pictures in than we could afford to send in the mail. We hope you enjoy the update and our year-in-review in pictures.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving break: St. Louis or bust!

For our main Thanksgiving festivities this year, we got together with a few families in our neighborhood and had a potluck feast. We are all young families, and it was nice for kids and adults alike to have some age-appropriate company over some delicious food!

However, our favorite part of Thanksgiving break was our weekend trip to St. Louis. Not only is the the zoo in St. Louis is free, but there is a really fun science center there most of which is free (although our membership to Wonderlab here in Bloomington even got us free access to the membership-only perks!). We just couldn't pass up the opportunity for a fun-filled weekend trip for a price of a hotel reservation.

Our first stop on the way was the St. Louis temple. Since the closest temple to us is 2 hours away in Kentucky, we always try to squeeze in a visit to the temple during long road trips. The kids always appreciate a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs, and the time Stephanie and I spend in peaceful worship always puts us in a better mood for the rest of the trip.

Ready to hit the road again!

Our next stop was the St. Louis zoo. Despite the cold temperatures, there was still quite a variety of animals around. The kids loved them all, and the bigger the better!

My hot wife and the cute little kids were bundled up pretty nice. The zebras, on the other hand, needed all the sunshine they could get to stay warm.

What's not to love about elephants?

After the zoo, we had dinner and checked in to our hotel. We always try to find hotels with pools, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint! There weren't too many people when we hopped in the pool, and it was nice and warm (a heated pool). However, after we had been there a few minutes, a bunch of people start popping their heads out of the water on one end of the pool, seemingly out of nowhere. Upon closer investigation, we discovered that the pool was both an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. A wall divided the two sections of the pool, but it only came down to the surface of the water, so it was easy to dip your head under and switch between the two sides of the pool. The kids had a blast going out into the cold November air and seeing the steam float off the heated water, and then going back in the indoor section.

Saturday morning, we headed over to the Science Center right after breakfast. The science center had lots of exhibits about building materials, aircraft, spacecraft, energy, and other cool things, as well as a world-class planetarium with hourly kids' shows about space.

Josh doing what he does best with blocks.

Heather loved dressing up as a Native American.

Josh played with this one toy non-stop for like 45 minutes, no joke. He had a great time, but you can see the expression on his face--he's guarding the balls like a fat kid guards his Twinkies.

Heather got mommy in on the Native American action.

Heather, Joshua, and I gave this contraption a shot. It was something like a human hamster wheel, although we never got the mechanics quite right.

After a nice long day at the museum, we were ready to head home, but we didn't want to leave without making one final stop at the Gateway Arch.

It's hard to capture the arch's true size in a photograph...

...but we gave it our best shot anyway...

...from lots of different angles...

...and of course the obligatory selfie...

All in all, it was a great trip, one that we would definitely do again, just for the price of a hotel room!