Thursday, February 13, 2020

Axton's First Birthday Party


Axton turned the big ONE on January 26th! I'll say the typical mom thing because it is TRUE---I have no clue how he is one already?!?! The past year has flown by! 
We had his party the evening of his birthday, Sunday, with all the family that was able to make it. He gained a couple of brand new playmates-to-be the weeks before his birthday, in the form of two tiny cousins, and between that and sickness, party attendance was quite a bit smaller than the initial plan. We still had a grand time with all of those who could make it!
My father in law captured a whole row of Axton's expressions during dinner. Pretty adorable! He was SO THRILLED to have people over. We had just completed a very quiet week of no company and really no social activities either (as we recovered from the prior week of John being out of town at a funeral, me out of town at a wedding, and all three of us getting some level of sickness afterwards)  so we decided Axton's social cup must've been quite depleted, based on his extreme happiness to see everybody!
For some reason, though, he got very serious at dessert time!

He looks positively concerned. =) Not sure why, as he was loving little tastes of frosting before dinner!

The actual "cake smash" situation didn't go quite as planned. The sticky frosting was quite frustrating for him (see above, him trying to "fling" it off his fingers) and he wasn't even interested in getting to the actual cupcake. I guess the prior training to keep hands clean and not touch his food had been very successful! =) He loved dinner though, so even though the cake wasn't such a hit, it was okay!
After dinner he had fun practicing his walking skills. A roomful of cheering fans was a big plus. =)
So fun!
And then it was time to open his gifts!
Amongst other things, he received:

These adorable little bath "bubble" toys. His daily bath time is his favorite time of day, so these have been such a fun addition to his little supply of bath toys. They are little floating toys and he loves them.

This Wooden Ramp Racer Set. It is the cutest little thing and Axton loves watching the cars race up and down. It's almost as fun for daddy and mama too! =) At first he was mainly interesting in watching and chewing the cars, but lately he has figured out how to make them go on the track himself, and he is quite proud of his accomplishments in doing that.

This Duplo Truck & Tracked Excavator Set.  Axton adores this set! They are his first real duplos and a huge hit with him thus far.
We ended the night out with the uncle/aunties staying later to chat, and Axton got to stay up an hour past his bedtime, which quite thrilled his little soul. He always gets a bottle of milk every night before going to bed, so here he is, quite worn out after all the festivities, enjoying his bottle while being snuggled by one of his aunties. 

Of course there is no way to really know what is happening in their little baby minds, but based on his smiles and laughs and overall joyfulness all evening long...I'd say Axton loved his first birthday party!

If you're a mama, what did your babies do to their cake at their first birthday? 
Any special traditions you have?
-Chels

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Our 2019 Holidays

Today I thought I'd share a little about how we did our holidays this past winter season. It worked out perfectly to spend time with both of our families as well as our own little household, and we were so blessed by each experience!

We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in our little home, and I LOVED every minute of it! There is something just so fun about being in charge and responsible for making the Thanksgiving feast come together, and preparing a warm and inviting atmosphere for those joining. It was truly a delight. The "farm fam" (what we call my Bontrager family who lives on the farm) came from Iowa to join us, along with my Grandma Bontrager. Due to complicated work schedules, they only ended up being with us for less than 24 hours, but it was a treat nonetheless!
My grandma is the gravy queen (well actually she is the queen of anything in the kitchen) so I was very honored to have her assist in the gravy preparation. 
As always, Axton adored all the people and the extra attention. He is little Mr Social, just like his daddy. =)
Fresh bread!
Axton enjoying stories with Grandpa! This "Five Little Monkeys" book was given to him by one of his Maxwell aunties, and it is one of his favorites!
My dear husband oversaw the prepping, cooking, and carving of the turkey. It was the most flavorful and delicious turkey I have ever had! One of his secret ingredients? Homemade apple kombucha! 
The beautiful spread.
Game time! 
One of my younger siblings favorite games to play when they visit us is this Dr Eureka Speed Logic Game. It is a super fun logic game that keeps you speeding along and thinking fast! We also gave it to one of John's brothers' and his family for Christmas and it has been a hit with them as well. You definitely should check it out if you are looking for a fun new game to add to your collection! Great for young and old alike!

Another favorite game here that our guests seem to love, is this Ice Cool game. Just get it and play it and then you'll know. I've seen adults get SO into this game-it's pretty great!
After Thanksgiving, it was time to set up Christmas decorations! Axton loved the process. =)
In December, we enjoyed a number of holiday activities, such as the annual favorite of Christmas caroling with the Maxwell tribe. We even got a beautiful snow this year for the event!
It was COLD but we bundled up WELL and Axton didn't fuss a bit! He really loved it, and when he and I quit early after two hours, it wasn't because he wasn't doing well but because mama was getting cold and because it was past his dinner time!
Our hats kept us warm and snug! You can get my mustard one here and Axton's black/grey marble one here!
We had the "late nighters" of the group over afterwards for soups and bread! The perfect ending to a cold evening!
John put up this garland and lights around our window and it added such a fun touch to our living room! I still haven't taken it down-I think it is winter decor, not just Christmas decor. =)
Out on a special December date!
Just hanging out helping in the kitchen! Temporarily! =)
Gift wrapping has always been one of my favorite things. I got my wrapping paper from Home Goods this year and went with a gold theme. Ah, so pretty!
Holiday babysitting so their parents could go out on a Christmas outing. Practicing being parents to six is a riot and we had a grand time! =)
We took Axton to his first Christmas nativity, "A Walk Through Bethlehem".
The animals were his favorite!
My parents came for a super brief visit in early December and we loved the time with them!
Our anniversary isn't a holiday, technically, but with it happening right in between Christmas and New Years, it sure feels like a holiday! We celebrated with a 24 hour trip to Vegas to see the NFR. John had been before but it was my first time to that particular rodeo and it was a TREAT. It was also our first time leaving Axton overnight but my mom came to stay with him and he did just great for her, as I knew he would. It was so special to spend time away, just the two of us, celebrating two wonderful years of marriage.
We went to a very classy restaurant and my favorite part was the made to order crepe station. Amazing!
Take a farm girl to a rodeo and you'll have a happy happy HAPPY wife. =)
We walked in amongst hundreds of people also wearing boots and denim, and I smelled the sawdust and animals, and told John, "I LOVE IT ALREADY." It was SO much fun. Of course, being there with my incredible husband was the BEST part of all!

Christmas Eve Day was spent with John's family, per tradition. It has been super special to join in on John's family's traditions for three years/Christmas's now! They go all out and it is SUCH a fun party, not to mention a full and lively house!
It was such fun to watch Axton experience everything!
Axton had his auntie Anna's name in one of the gift draws and he got her this very fun auntie theme shirt.  
He also enjoyed "helping" her open it. =)
Opening his set of adorable new clothes from Grandma!
John had a rather interesting placement of his gift. He was quite creative in retrieving it, and the whole process offered great entertainment for a collection of onlooking nieces and nephews in particular. =)
Let's just say that in the days since then I have discovered that there are literally countless items that can be shot with salt. Who knew?? =)
Axton loved the whole day, especially doing one of his favorite things-climbing into the toy box and just enjoying himself. 
Auntie and niece smiles!


The expectant (at the time) Maxwell mamas (two little boys have since been born!)
We came back home Christmas Eve...and while I put Axton to bed, John was putting the finishing touches on a surprise project: a fire in our downstairs fireplace (first time!) along with Christmas lights and greenery strung all over and a bed made up on the floor in front of the fireplace! It was like that perfect magical Christmas eve moment and so so beautiful.
Christmas Day found us at home, just the three of us. We continued on with our little family traditions started last year-sleeping on the floor on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning breakfast, opening our gifts to each other, a special Christmas lunch (not the "typical" Christmas spread, just a meal we've picked ahead of time that is extra special to us) games and family time Christmas afternoon, and an added new thing this year--playing with Christmas gifts with Axton throughout the day.
Quite serious about daddy's new cologne. =)
Axton was quite thrilled about this little bunny that he picked out for his mama. Sweetness.
LOVE his little expression of intensity as he opened his gifts!
John picked out the PERFECT gift for Axton-this remote control dump truck. I texted one of my friends a video of John and Axton playing with the truck and she responded: "Hmmm. Was that a gift for the daddy or gift for the son?" =) It has definitely been very mutually enjoyed! John runs the remote and Axton chases the truck all over and giggles when it "moves on its own!" 
And then...Christmas lunch! This year it was hot ham and cheese sliders (with poppyseed/butter/brown sugar/dijon mustard sauce goodness) chips, veggies, and one of our favorite drinks, Welches Sparkling Rose'.

A special Advent celebration time, Christmas evening, at Gigi's house, with a few of the others.

And finally, we closed out 2019 and began 2020 with a family vacation with my side, the Bontragers, in southern Iowa. My parents rented a lovely place big enough for all of our little growing families, and we enjoyed three days of delicious food, lively games, and wonderful conversation and reconnecting. These four little kiddos add a ton of spice to our get togethers now, and are doted on by, well, everyone. Nana Bontrager brought these healthy lollipops that were a highlight. All involved enjoyed them greatly but took the process quite seriously. =)
Auntie Rebs in her glory, surrounded by all four babies.
We had a very fun gift exchange one day! Taylor's gift wrapping skills are INCREDIBLE, don't you agree? Or maybe he has a very gifted sister who helped him? =)
Case IH tractors for all the little grandsons because all good Bontragers GO RED. Axton was thrilled!
He knew what to do with it right away!!
Great conversations, with beautiful live background music.
Coffee/tea/chocolate station. Open 24/7!
Blanket rides with Uncle Mitchell and Auntie Liz. The babies all really did love it but weren't sure about the very close quarters of all riding together.
Breakfast time! We all took turns doing meals and wow, as always, we ate like kings and queens!
There were many lively games!
Movie night!
Puzzles! 
It got finished at 11:27pm on December 31st. Just in time. =)
More yummy food!
These two are six weeks apart in age and the best little buds. It was so cute to watch them play together so well! I think part of the reason they just jumped right in and loved each other was because they are very familiar with seeing each other on a regular basis through their mamas' Marco Polo chats. =)
Baby swap! Just for a few minutes. =)

And there are our holidays and celebrations of 2019! Hope you enjoyed!
-Chels

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