Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Parts 2, 3, and 4...seriously.

We really have had 4 Christmas celebrations already...and we're not done! Our first one was here at home, of course. Then we went to Colorado for Aaron's side. Then we came back to Kansas and celebrated with my Dad's side and my Mom's side. Tomorrow we'll head up to Iowa to celebrate with my immediate family! Wow, I'm tired. The pictures (and there's lots of them!) are backward in order b/c I always forget that stupid blogger puts them in backward. That really irritates me. Oh well.

So lastly, but first, here are some pics from Mom's side at Aunt Cara's house...

Anna (3 1/2 yrs.), Hudson peeking in (7 mo.), Kaedyn (4 yrs.), Mia (8 yrs.)

Uncle Terry & Aunt Cara got the 3 great nieces matching sweaters. They are so cute! This is the best picture anybody got. Anna didn't want to go up there (I don't know what Binga bribed her with!), and then Hudson thought he needed to be in on the action! :) Kaedyn was serious about smiling though--what a pose (whose daugher is that?!? haha)!

Bryce was taking pictures with Aunt Dona's camera. It'll be interesting to see what kind of pictures come out--I think he held it backward most of the time! He is such a cutie pie! And does he ever have a sweet tooth! I don't know how many times I caught him at the dessert table trying to grab something!!

Now for my Dad's side, which was at Uncle Alan & Aunt Donna's house this year. There were 45 of us there!!!! That's not even everybody. I think there were 13 missing! But Grandma said that was the most that has ever been at one time, so we set a record! :) Grandpa and Grandma had 6 children (one daughter passed away almost 20 yrs. ago), 17 grandchildren (only 6 of whom are not married), and 14 great grandchildren!!! I wish I'd taken a picture of everyone at the dinner tables. It stretched across the entire length of their basement (it's a big house, too!). It was so much fun to see everybody and to be together. Some of my greatest memories are these times when so many of us are together. It's great. We also had a photographer come out and take pictures. She was amazing! She was so patient to let everyone else snap pictures!! So she took pictures of Gpa & Gma with their kids/spouses, grandkids/spouses, and great-grandkids! What a great memory that will be for all of us to have. We even did a shot of the entire group, but we had to go outside for that one! Also, a little explanation for the 3 people outside my family that read this...we have a "program" every year. The 2nd generation (my dad and siblings) take turns every year being in charge. So they decide what the program will entail. It's usually just singing songs, reading the Christmas story, and each family sharing something--either just what God has been doing in their lives or reading poems/stories, or singing specials. It's awesome.

I don't have a clue who took this picture (judging from the height, I would guess a kid, probaby Anna!), but I think it's pretty neat. That's a real tree, too. That screen to the right side was all the grandkids' gift to Grandpa & Grandma. Ange had the great idea for the gift. We put a picture up of each grandchild/family and then filled the empty spots with Scriptures and notes to them. We also included a group picture of them with all the grandkids and spouses that we quickly printed off (to be replaced with the "real" pic when we get it). They loved it :) All the siblings (Grandpa & Grandma's kids) got them a digital photo frame. That will be fun for them to have, too and add pictures to.

For gifts, we had a grab bag. The men bought tools and the women bought books (great idea Phil--or was it Warene?!). The kids (great-grandkids) exchanged names. Jacob LOVES his big ol' truck :) It has wheels! (He also really likes the books) Anna got a dress up set (Kaedyn got a matching set), so she's had a blast playing with that.

This is about 1/4 of the people there. All grandkids and great-grandkids.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, the men sing "We Three Kings" and the women sing "Silent Night". Philip said he wasn't going to break tradition! :) This year, the great grandkids (with the exception of my daughter and the babies--she's so stubborn!) sang "Away in the Manger". So precious! Good idea Teresa! And the guy on the far left is my amazing cousin Scott (and his adorable go-getter son Daniel!) should really check out his website. (not that all of my cousins aren't amazing!!)

Let's just say that the combination of not getting enough sleep and playing hard with all of her cousins wore Anna out. Big time! I don't know what Dad's excuse was! ;) And of course, since it was like 5pm when she fell asleep, she was up until 1:30am!!!!!

Both of my kids love to play the piano (makes my heart happy!). And neither one of them has ever pounded...even Jacob! This is at Grandma's house...I think this is the same piano she tried to teach my Dad on (he kept hiding the books until she finally gave up...right Dad?).

He's growing too fast! :(

Playing with balloons at Uncle Alan's house...kept the little ones busy for a long time!

Here we have my cousin's baby Addison (in the rocking chair), my niece Kaedyn next to her, my same cousin's oldest Parker (in the green shirt), my niece Mia (in the brown shirt), Anna in the pink sweatshirt, and my nephew Bryce in the gray shirt. (again for the 3 people beside family that read this thing!)
Now for the 2nd celebration in Colorado. My camera got left in the van, so I don't have as many pictures as I wish I did :( But here are a couple. I already blogged about the first day/night we spent out there. (FYI-Jacob didn't sleep any better the rest of the trip!) We went to the Christmas eve service with Grandma then had YUMMY brisket for supper. The next night we had all of my mother-in-law's side over (all that were home anyway) for the traditional Christmas day soup supper. There were 24, I believe! Delicious food (especially the cookies Grandma made!!) and fun conversations. I think there were only 4 kids this time. And my kids fell asleep right before or right after supper! :( But they both woke up in time for everyone to get to see them a little.

Our first day out there, Jacob chipped his tooth!!!!! You can see it in this picture (might have to click on it?). He was standing in Aaron's lap while we were sitting at their glass-top table in the sunroom. Aaron was watching Anna & was just holding him aroung his legs. For some reason, he fell forward and since Aaron was looking to the side, didn't see him falling. Jacob didn't catch himself and knocked his head (and evidently tooth!) right on the edge of the table. Luckily it's a round table, so the edge wasn't sharp!

We found Great Grandma's wagon in the basement! They had a lot of fun playing. He was content to just sit in there and play with the cars (or reach down and play with the wheels...shocking I know!)

He also really liked being pulled, but Anna got tired of that pretty quickly!

She decided to play peek-a-boo in the closet instead!

Every year for the past few years, Aaron folks have gotten me a grouping of the Willow Tree nativity set. (I love Willow Tree). Since we don't have a fireplace/mantle, I put it up in this little display case thing. It fits great...until now! I got the final grouping this year, so when I opened it I told Aaron it was great, but now I have to have a mantle to put it on next year! haha ;) The top one is the Christmas angel...I think a student gave that one to me--it doesn't come with the Nativity set. I have a nice little collection going (other than the Nativity)...4 or 5 pieces I think. They're very interesting pieces, the way they're made (from wood).

My kids LOVE the Dora games we got Anna. Jacob just thinks they're movies and is surprisingly good about not touching the buttons while Anna plays. They sat on our bed and played/watched for at least 30 min. one day. Anna is really good at them. She's also starting to use the Spanish she's picked up from Dora! The other day she said "be careful" in Spanish (I won't attempt the spelling!) when I almost stepped on something. Then today she said "where is it" in Spanish when she was looking for something! Crazy.

Okay, I'm done. And if you've read this! That was a really long post and probably pretty boring. Oh well!! :) It was so much fun seeing so much family!


Mom had her first appointment at Mayo this morning. She basically had a lot of blood work done and a CT scan, and saw the oncologist. Tomorrow afternoon, she will see the ENT doctor. He'll do a scope down her throat and possibly another biopsy. Then she'll see the oncologist again. Dad said the bad thing is a lot of the doctors are gone (b/c of Christmas time) and the good thing is there aren't a lot of patients there (b/c of Christmas time). Be praying that they will be able to figure things out. Also pray that Mom's head cold doesn't turn into pneumonia again. We're all so glad that she came down for Christmas, but she was exposed to a lot of germs! And a lot of our immediate family is sick with a stomach bug, so pray that she doesn't get that either (or the rest of us who have avoided it so far--esp. the kids).
We're home for now :) Jacob slept all night last night, for the first time since we've been gone! The little man just wanted to be in his own bed, I guess. He usually sleeps fine at my parents' house, so hopefully he will again.
Back to work...thanks for praying.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

We're spending the next few days in Colorado with Aaron's family. We hit some bad weather about 1/2 way out, but it didn't last long and we still made good time. His parents live up in the mountains and I have to say, God gave me a beautiful view this morning when Jacob woke up too early :) It's very peaceful and serene (except the howling wind that decided to start last night!). They have a gorgeous sunroom, windows all the way around with perfect views of the mountains. Jacob is enthralled in watching Dora (and doing his best to get close enough to touch the screen--I think he's been moved away at least a dozen times!) & Anna is making muffins with Grandma. I'm too tired to go back to the van and get my camera--sorry!! For some reason, Jacob woke up in the middle of night. After a bit of crying and drinking some juice, he puked--several times! He isn't sick. It was weird. Maybe he just had to adjust to the altitude? He's perky and normal this morning. So we had a long night!
Here are some pictures from the other day at home.

The kids were playing in the pantry. Pretty much Anna would shut the door and they would stand there and lick the glass! ha They thought it was fun, anyway. And Jacob would peek through the clear edge there (you can see his little eye peeking). It was really cute.

Some friends stopped in town on their way "home" for Christmas. We hadn't seen them in several years. They just had their first baby in November. Anna was in heaven! She probably sat and held Gracie for 30 minutes. At one point, she asked for her doll and laid it next to Gracie. She actually put her arm around it. It was really precious.

Anna sacked out on the way to town last week. I took her, Jake, and Aly to the movie "The Tale of Despereaux". It was pretty good. There were a lot more scary parts than I thought there would be, but Anna and Jake did pretty good. Kim had told them on the way to town that if they saw a scary part, just close their eyes and remember that God is bigger than anything and it was just pretend. Anna's never been to a theatre, so she sat in awe for a good 10 min. Didn't move an inch! It was hilarious. We had a good time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We're getting ready to head out for our Christmas trek across the Midwest! :) I still have a million things to do (as always), but oh well. The kids have really been enjoying the Dora computer games. Jacob is absolutely enthralled (it is Dora, after all!) and Anna is amazing at them! She is so smart. I've actually been surprised at how well she's played them on her own. I've walked her through a couple, but she is very insistent that she CAN do it!

I didn't get a Christmas letter done this year. I wish I would have, but time just got away from me. 2008 was a good year for us. Jacob has brought so much joy--it's been very fun to see how different it is to have a boy around! From day one, really!! He is stubborn, that boy. He can walk, but he prefers to crawl (and he wears me out trying to get him to do it!!). He could talk more, but he prefers not to. It's amazing how much he can communicate without talking :) He knows how to make his sister scream (that's a two way street!). It's hilarious to watch. He knows the right moment to grab one of her precious toys--and then he skidaddles!! He can move very fast. And then he just grins. Ohhhh, that grin. I love that boy.
Anna continues to stretch me with her will :) And she continues to squeeze my heart with her gentle spirit and loving ways. She loves to love! Whether it's her brother (who doesn't always appreciate the lovin', let me tell ya!), her dolls, or her Mommy & Daddy. Her favorite thing to do is play Mommy. She's so good to play on her own, but she loves to talk Daddy into playing with her as soon as he walks in the door! A friend of ours said the other day "Having little girls sometimes stretches our masculinity." HA! I'm sure Aaron never thought he would be playing with dolls:) Anna loves going to Sunday school and she loves playing with her special friend Jake (and his siblings). She usually pretends at least once during the day that she's going to school. I can't believe that she'll be ready for preschool (somewhere, even if it's home!) next year and kindergarten the year after!! That's only 1 1/2 yrs. away. She CANNOT be old enough for that yet! Time is going by so quickly.
Aaron still likes his job. He'll be changing positions after the new year! Moving into an assistant manager position, which means he won't have to work 14 hr. days and he won't have to travel the state day in and day out! It also means we'll have to buy another car, but that's okay. Thanks to Dave, we've been planning and saving :) We're chunking away on our "Total Money Makeover". It's great to see how much progress we've made and it's really taught us a lot about being conscious of how we spend our money. I'm very proud of how hard Aaron works so we can pay off debt even quicker. He's a hard worker, that man. I think I'll keep him around ;) He's also an amazing Daddy. Jacob adores him and if he's not given Daddy's attention quickly after he walks in the door, it's not good!
I'm still loving being at home, raising our precious children! I started doing some work online for Guideposts. They have a prayer site and I have to "process" the prayers before they can be put online--no last names, cities, sensitive info, etc etc. It's nice b/c I can do it from anywhere (that has an internet connection) and it's very flexible. And it helps with that whole debt snowball we've got rolling :)
Mom has an appointment at Mayo next Monday. The swelling has gotten worse again and the chemo is no longer helping. She is still recovering from pneumonia. We're praying the doctors at Mayo will have some more insight into why the swelling is worsening again and can FIX IT! Thank you for praying.
So I didn't intend for this to be such a long post, but there ya go! I still have a million things to do before we leave...I wonder why???
I pray that you have a blessed Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Savior. What an amazing gift God gave us that night so long ago...

Monday, December 22, 2008


So Anna has asked for one thing, and one thing only this year, and she's been asking for it for months (literally). A jewelry box. (a funny side note is that a month ago when my parents were here, they asked what she wanted for Christmas. She told them jewelry box, but they thought she said Jell-O box! Which didn't really surprise them b/c on Christmas when I was about her age, I asked for a box of Christmas cards-which I got (and they weren't new ones!) and loved!) Turns out the one she saw was gone by the time I started actually Christmas shopping! I panicked. So my sister-in-law and I started looking online. We found one (not like the one she'd seen in the store, but I didn't think she'd notice). We got her a few other things (I love the dollar bins at Target!!). She also still really likes Dora and since I got my laptop, she likes playing games on it (esp. in the car!). Well, the trial games have all expired, so I found a 2 pack of Dora games on Amazon for $6!

She is her father's daughter. Once we mentioned the possibility of opening presents, she wanted to do it NOW! :) We told her we could do it "tonight after supper or tomorrow when Daddy gets home from work." Her response? "We already ate supper!!" When I told her it was lunch we'd had, not supper, she said "Let's open them after lunch!!" HA! So we did :)
She, of course, recognized Dora right away, but she didn't figure out that they were computer games!
Still not sure exactly what it is, but she knows it's something Dora! :)
Now for the one she's been anticipating for months!!!
"Is it a jewey box Mama?!?!!!"

"It is!!!!!!!!!!"

She loves it. She carried it with her everywhere yesterday and took it to bed with her!

I remember having a similar jewelry box. The little tune is so pretty. I think mine had an actual pink toole tutu. She really loves it. So does Jacob! That's what he was looking at in the last post. I think he likes it b/c it spins (like a wheel!) and he tries to figure out how it moves. Anna has been pretty good about letting him look at it and touch it. After a while, she said "Isn't it supposed to be all pink?" I couldn't believe it! She remembered the jewelry box she'd asked for in Walmart THREE MONTHS ago!! Good grief. But when I told her that those ones were all gone when I went to get hers, she was just fine with that. Whew!

Her stocking stuffers...have I mentioned that I love Target's dollar bins?! $5 for a wand, headband, 4 necklaces and 4 bracelets, a tutu, and ballerina slippers!


I mentioned that we opened our presents yesterday...the kids had priceless expressions and it was so fun to watch them. So this post is just Jacob :) The next one will be Anna's.
Now, Jacob really doesn't need anything. He's got more than enough toys, and the only other thing he really enjoys is eating. So we didn't get a whole lot for him. Turns out, he would've been fine being left out all together! :)

Anna & Daddy are trying to get him interested in unwrapping his first present. He'd rather drink his OJ! But then...
He discovered it had wheels and made manly noises!!! Then we couldn't get him to even look at any other presents, let alone open them!

Daddy finally hid the steam roller...that worked for a few seconds.

"Hey! Wait just a minute! Where's my steam roller?!"
"It's over there, isn't it Dada?!"

"Oooohhhh, I'm so excited!!!! I see it!"

And then, Anna opened one of hers and Jacob was willing to abandon his manly steam roller'll have to read the next post :) hehe

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Button

You might notice the new button I added to the sidebar. It's from this amazing woman's blog. I just spent 3 days reading her story from the beginning. If you decide to do the same, have a box of Puffs ready. The blog is dedicated to telling the story of her baby, who only lived a few hours (and they knew at 20 weeks that she wouldn't survive). She's an incredibly gifted writer and an inspiration to turn closer to Christ. Her husband sings in the Christian group Selah. Anyway, she dedicated herself to praying some specific Scriptures over her children every day, 7 times a day. She chose them to correspond with certain activities throughout the day (while they're taking a bath, when they leave the house, when they're eating, etc etc). A friend mailed me these prayers and I have them taped up around the house. It's a challenge, but I want to strive every day to show my children Christ. Won't you join me?! :)
PS-I have some really cute pictures to share (we opened our presents today since we're leaving Tuesday and my husband is really bad at waiting to open gifts;)), but I'm really tired and I haven't downloaded them yet. You'll just have to wait :D
PPS- Mom is home! And she had a surprise when she got there...Jeremy & the kids flew in early :) She didn't have a clue! She is quite possibly the easiest person to surprise.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's cold.

I guess when Aaron asks why I haven't posted recently, it's time for a new post! It's bitterly cold here this week. The 1-3" of snow we were supposed to get was more like 6". So we've pretty much stayed home. It's a big pain to bundle the kids up and go somewhere. We did run to Lyons yesterday though. It wasn't quite as cold. The kids have pretty much stayed in their jammies all day, every day this week! They just look so warm and cozy, I hate to change them.
A huge change from last year is that Anna actually likes the snow! She wants to go play in it. So the other day after Jacob was down for his nap, we went outside. I had the intention of shoveling the front walk while she played. After we got all bundled up and outside, I remembered we don't have a snow shovel. There was NO WAY I was using the stupid spade shovel we have to clear the walk!!! I spotted a broom and thought I'd give that a try. It actually worked--the snow was very light and dry, so it was easy to sweep the sidewalk. ha. But on our trip to Lyons, I made sure to buy a snow shovel! It was a little quicker shoveling the back sidewalk with a snow shovel instead of a broom! So while I swept, Anna played and played. We tried to make a snowman, but the snow was too dry to even make snowballs. She even made a couple of snow angels! Of course, I forgot the camera, so I have no pictures of that.

This is Jacob's favorite spot in the house. He shoves everything off except the lamp and sometimes the phone base and climbs on. He either plays with the dangly things on the lamp or pushes buttons on the phone (and gets in trouble for it, but he doesn't care) or just sits there. He's a strange child sometimes! Anna likes to join him sometimes. Hey, we're stuck in this tiny house day in and day out, I let them do what they want! ;-)

When Jacob woke up from his nap today, he didn't want to get out of the crib! So I brought the computer in there and worked while he dove around and played. He probably stayed in there for 15 min. (with a dirty diaper, no less!)

I rearranged things a little. Since Anna has claimed the couch as her bed, I took the toddler bed down just before Thanksgiving, that way I could put the twin mattress that had no home in its place. Well, it was just in the way, so I moved it out, took the toy box from the living room to the kids' room and moved a rocking chair that never got used from our bedroom to the living room. It's much nicer. And maybe this way the toys will stay a little more contained to their bedroom instead of all over the living room. I put the kitchen set against the wall where Anna's bed was and put the toy box against the window where the kitchen set used to be (that's mostly for the family that knows how the room looks...). It's better. There's more room to play and the living room feels more like a living room instead of a play room!

Jake & baby Anna came over to play the other day (I don't even remember what day it bad is that?!). They are very close and it is so sweet to see. I smelled a dirty diaper, so I asked baby Anna if she was poopy. She started crying (for some reason, she does NOT like having someone other than Mom or Dad change her diaper) and ran straight for Jake, who held her in his lap without hesitation! It was so precious. She sat like this for a long time, sucking her fingers. And Jake didn't mind one bit. He would just alternate between hugging her and playing around her!
Time to finish baths. Aaron is working late tonight doing inventory :( Anyone else watching Million $ Password? I like that game.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Missions Trip

Another cousin, Addie, just left today for a medical missions trip to Egypt...follow their journey here and remember to hold them up in prayer as they serve the people in Egypt! (Her profile is on the 2nd page of the blog, so click on "older posts" at the bottom of the home page)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Food and Little Friends

These are the cookies Anna made at Kim's. The middle cookie is Anna's masterpiece :) She made it all by herself and she was very proud. Thanks again Kim for watching the kids so I could be at Grandma's surgery.

Today, I kept Kim's kids for a couple hours. I tried a new quesadilla recipe from my "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook. They were really good!
Jake really liked them!!! :) Better not try and take any of his food!

Everyone except my Anna liked them. At first little Anna didn't like them. She took one bite and said "yucky"! haha But then she tried it again and ate 2 pieces! Jacob ate one piece and Jake ate like 5! I also fixed some mac & cheese and they all had a little of that. And I just realized that there's a big carton of vinegar in the middle of the table. ha

We had fun and can't wait to play again :)

Here's the recipe (from the cookbook that sneaks pureed veggies into foods so you can make sure your kids get their veggies, whether they know it or not!)...well, this is my version of it!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
It calls for chicken breasts, cooked and either pureed or sliced. I didn't have anything but canned chicken. I rinsed and drained it and threw it in a skillet (one can); add a little salt & pepper. I also threw in a chicken bullion cube. Canned chicken has that funny taste, and that really did cover up that taste.
Spray a cookie sheet and lay out 3 tortillas. Spread sour cream on them (the recipe added 1/2 cup pureed navy beans to the sour cream). Lay out or spread the chicken over that. Mix together 1/2 cup pureed butternut squash and 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used the fiesta blend). Spread that over the chicken layer. Top with another tortilla. Bake for about 5 min, or until the cheese is melted. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa (if your kids eat salsa).
They were tasty!

When Daddy's in charge...

So Aaron came home early from work and had a meeting at his other job at 4:30. He'd already stopped by there on his way home and brought 1 1/2 cookies (a mere sampling of what they had, evidently). Anna ate part of the 1/2. She heard Daddy say he had to go and asked to go along. So she did. And while Daddy was talking, Anna got high...on sugar. Holy cow. Aaron said somebody gave her 2 cookies and a juice box. He figured she'd only eat one and give the other to him. Nope, by the time he looked again, she had 1/2 the second one finished. When they got home, she was BOUNCING. OFF. THE. WALLS. Good grief. She was yelling, jumping on the couch, jumping on Aaron, just being completely goofy and loud. Now, Anna is usually a fairly mild kid. She gets excited about some things, but this was wild. So about 7 we finally decide to just go to Sonic for supper and I needed to get a couple things at the store. By the time I got back in the car, she was a wreck. Tired, whining, crying over nothing...she was crashing. Holy cow. But then she got in the bathtub and got wound up again. The pictures below were take at about 9:45 (and she went to bed really late last night (b/c she fell asleep really late in the afternoon) and was up too early). So she should be passed out with exhaustion. I think she's still awake (Aaron's putting her to bed tonight).
Just to clarify, I allow my kids to have goodies, so it's not like she's never had 2 cookies before. In fact, yesterday she played at Jake's house and they made candy cane sugar cookies...I think she ate 5 between coming home at 4 and going to bed! So those cookies she had today must have had a TON of sugar in them!!!
Bouncing around on the couch...

Daddy trying to get her to sit still and settle down for sleeping!