Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

Our Christmas was a great one this year. We had a lot of wonderful family time, time with friends, and some yummy food.

Christmas Eve my parents came over to do presents and brunch--steak and eggs and hashbrowns. After opening presents (we got family themed gifts of new sleeping bags, air mattresses and a huge new tent!!), we played a few rounds of Disney Scene It and then took naps. We made it to church on Christmas Eve, in the middle of some pretty heavy, wet snow, then headed to Andy's parent's neighbors (who are like family) for dinner. Then it was off to the in-law's for presents.
The girls helping my parents open presents

Ready for church!
The snow from church to dinner at 35 mph
My baby-the Cricut I got from Andy's parents!
There are too many pictures to post them all, so I'll add that Andy got a miter saw from his parents that he's been wanting for a long time. We all got some really great gifts from Bill, Lynn and Alicia and had a lot of fun visiting and being together. We also got a great family gift--a year's membership to the Minnesota Zoo! It will be so nice to be able to go whenever we're in the cities and have some time without having to worry about cost! The girls and I LOVE the zoo, and Andy tolerates going there...
Christmas morning Alayna woke up about 6:45 and it killed her to wait for her sister to wake up at 8:00! The 3 of us snuggled in bed until the little girls woke up, then we headed downstairs to see what was under the tree. There were filled stockings on the stair railing and presents for everyone--including the dogs.

Marley and Sunny anxiously waiting for their bones--Sunny is excited, Marley has no clue but is excited because Sunny is
Sunny tried to steal them both
Lilly got some new V-Smile games
Alayna got a new camera!
Alayna found Mikayla the purple rescue Mermaid that she'd been asking for--we have no idea what it is, but a purple mermaid was found and it fit the bill! She was so excited!
Lilly was relaxing on our new air mattresses and playing her new game
The Christmas pic in front of the tree

Christmas afternoon was spent at my parents' house, visiting with mom's side of the family. Saturday was a day to relax a little, and we went to see the Chipmunk's Squeak-quel. Saturday night Andy's cousin and his family stayed overnight. The kids had a sleepover and played, watched movies, did kid-stuff, while us adults played games. In the morning, the kids played outside with the dads while us moms cleaned up from the previous night. That day at noon, people from Andy's side of the family started showing up and we hosted Christmas for 24 (I think).

All in all, this Christmas was a wonderful time and we are now anxiously looking forward to the new year and all that it has in store for us!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can it Be? Mikayla's Three!

I know I still need to do the whole "Look at what a wonderful Christmas we had" post. And I will do that, I promise. I also promise that it was a truly wonderful Christmas. But as Mikayla said on Sunday when someone asked whose birthday was coming up, "Baby Jesus's birfday need to be aaaallllllll done, then it's my 3!" Well, Baby Jesus's birthday is all done so that must mean that Mikayla is, indeed, 3.

Oh Mikayla, what to say about you? From the first time I felt you move, I knew you were the mover and shaker of the siblings. We didn't know if you were a boy or a girl, but we knew that you were going to be a handful--and a lot of fun. You were constantly kicking and punching and rolling around. You birth was quick and no non-sense. As a baby, you made sure no one forgot about you while you took in everything. And that is still true today. You seldom sit still, you have tons of energy, you have an imagination that's unbelievable and you say words bigger than yourself (like humongous, horrible and ridiculous) You also throw more fits than your sisters combined, you have the unfortunate grace (or lack) of your mother, and you have to try everything at least once, just like your father. We couldn't love you anymore than we do. Life would sure be boring without you around!

**As I was writing this, Mikayla came up to me and said, "Mommy, yookit--I 3 and I rockin' the beer gut! Aren't I a little stinker?" (Rockin' the Beer Gut is a country song...)

Happy 3, Mikayla!

First family pic with 5 before leaving the hospital
5 months old

Yee-Haw (about 13 months)

Somewhere in the early 2's

Christmas Eve, 5 days before 3!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the celebration of that fateful night over 2000 years ago. That night, so long ago, had all of the inns and extra rooms full. Those rooms were full because of a census. The rooms in our area may be full, too, but not for a census--we're expecting snow. Lots of it. I'm talking 12"+ is all the meteorologists keep saying. And it's going to fall over Christmas Eve and Day, the days we've been anticipating for months.

I'm finally ready. The last of the Christmas cards and packages got in the mail yesterday. The presents are all purchased and wrapped. The girls have their dresses hanging and ready for church tomorrow. The food is bought, the goodies are still here (somewhat). The vehicles are filled with gas, as is the snow-blower, and the shovels are at the ready. Today, we're watching movies and listening to music and having a bit of a party. Tomorrow is church and family gatherings, with more of the same on Friday.

We hope to spend some time with you over the next few days. If we can't, we hope that you have a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Every year around Christmas, we go to the Holli-dazzle parade in downtown Minneapolis. We meet with friends, brave the cold, and enjoy the lights as they dance by on the street. Afterwards (or sometimes before) we meet for dinner and some time to just visit and hang out.

This year, we had quite the group. There were 25 of us, I believe, and we took up quite a good chunk of real estate along the parade route. The kids all sit down on the curb, watching and waiting, while us adults stand behind them continuously counting little heads, catching up and keeping everyone as warm as possible (it was about 15 F this year during the parade)

After the parade, we all trekked back to our vehicles in various parking ramps, then headed for dinner at the house of our good friends. We ate yummy lasagna, salad, garlic bread and goodies. We chatted and laughed and had a great time. It's one of our favorite traditions for the Christmas season.

Tale as Old as Time

On Saturday, my mom, Alayna, Lilly and I went to see Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" musical. Alayna had gone to her first show, The Lion King, a few years ago and Lilly has been so excited for her first musical since that day. Well, B&B was it.
When we walked into the doors of The Ordway in St Paul, she was overwhelmed with all the people, the decorations, the size of the theater. We found our seats and both girls quickly started asking, "How much longer?" "When will it start?" Thankfully, it was only about 15 minutes.
Throughout the show, Alayna and Lilly were just enthralled. Alayna, being older, was a little more reserved. Lilly, however, was not. She clapped, she smiled, she jumped, she laughed! At the end of the show, when the castle inhabitants defeated the villagers, she exclaimed, "The castle WON!" and when the beast turned into a man, she was jumping up and down, clapping. I think her first major musical was a success.

Friday, December 18, 2009

School Programs!

Both of the girls have had their Christmas programs in the past 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry for Alayna's that I forgot my camera. I was so upset. But, she did a great job singing and dancing to the songs. She was also a line-leader for a certain part of their program and she did a great job keeping in time and doing what she was supposed to. It even earned her picture to be published in the local paper! Great job, Alayna!

Lilly's first school program was Thursday night, with just the 4K students. They sang several songs and did some finger plays. It was adorable to hear all the little ones singing their hearts out! After they sang, we went into the commons area of the school and Santa was there! The younger girls sat on his lap, while Alayna was helping get things ready for the other parts of the evening. After Santa, we ate snacks and decorated Gingerbread houses. It was a great night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around these parts. We got several inches of snow last Wednesday, then a couple more last night. When you drive through the area towns, there are Christmas decorations on the lampposts and houses are lit up with colorful lights and plastic nativity scenes. Sometimes, you can get a glimpse into the houses to see their beautiful Christmas trees all lit up for the holidays.

We've been doing a lot of decorating here, too. We have our two trees up, the garland and stockings are hung, the nativity set is on the coffee table, and I plan on putting up my Candy-cane village today during nap time. Pictures of all that will come later today. Right now, though, we're going to talk Christmas traditions.

One of the long-standing traditions in our family is our church's Sunday school program. My children were the 4th generation of our family to be baptized in our church--my grampa, my dad, myself and now my girls. So there's a lot of time and tradition in that little church. Yesterday was the Sunday school program that my mom actually wrote, and with the help of my good friend and I, put on with the kids. It was about a little angel who was too little to do much of anything, but she was able to calm a crying baby Jesus with a sweet lullaby. Very cute and the kids did a great job!

Here's Alayna as one of the Teacher Angels
Here are Lilly (the napping Mary) and Mikayla the sheep (in the black pants)
After the Sunday school program we came back to my house for another family tradition--baking Christmas cookies! My mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law came over and we baked and dipped and decorated and sweet-treated our little hearts out. We made sugar cut-out cookies, peanut butter star cookies, oreo truffle balls, pretzel wreaths, Bugle stockings and spritzes. I forgot to take a picture of everything sitting all over the counters and table, but did think to take one after all was bagged up. The pics below are just our part of the prize, after being divided out so everyone had some to take home!

There were only a few casualties during our baking--a couple cookies lost a limb or head and had to be eaten, my knuckle was burned on a pan right out of the oven, and my mixer was burned up by someone who shall remain nameless (but rhymes with "hi rom"--and she bought me a replacement by the end of the day) All in all, we had a great weekend. And now, it's starting to feel more like Christmas as well as look like it, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Naughty List

Dear Santa Paws,

Usually, our dogs (Marley and Sunny) are model citizens. Sunny won't eat food from the floor unless you tell her it's okay and she mostly just sleeps when she's in the house because she doesn't want to be kicked out in the cold. Marley, while just a pup, is learning the ropes and doing very well. She's getting better about eating off the table (she doesn't even have to lift her head or stretch much at all to reach the middle of it) and she's learning what is and isn't considered food. But, sometimes they slip up...

I am writing to inform you of a little "incident" from last night, in case it didn't come up on your radar. Yesterday, Andy and I did the last of our Christmas shopping and while out, found an adorable set of gingerbread dog-houses. There were 4 in a box, with all the decorations you could need and a Snoopy for each house (and the set was only $7!). We bought them for the girls, thinking it was great they could each decorate one. Apparently, the dogs didn't think so. I don't know if they thought we were going to force them to sleep in these tiny houses that were the size of their ears or what, but they didn't like it one bit.

We left Marley and Sunny in the house for about an hour after we got home, while we went to get the kids. When we got home, the doghouses were gone. I mean, Gone. Finished. The only thing left was some shredded cardboard and 2 tiny candy balls. Oh, did I fail to mention the houses weren't set up yet and were still in their original, unopened box? Apparently they weren't sealed tightly enough in plastic if the dogs could smell them and figure it out.

Of course, when I asked who did this, they both gave me blank stares and neither one fessed up. Later, Marley tried to tell me that it was the neighbor dog, but I wasn't buying it. I would have thrown them outside for the night for eating the houses and lying, but it was only 2 degrees at that time and I do have a heart.

So when you're double checking your list, Santa Paws, make sure that this last incident is on there. Again, I don't know who did it, but I think it was a team effort.

Candy, the annoyed dog-owner

Monday, December 7, 2009


We went down to the cities this past weekend to ring bells for the Salvation Army with Andy's cousin's family. We had a great time and were able to donate some of our time and energy to those less fortunate. The girls learned about giving of themselves, and their time, to help others out. We explained to them that the money went to people less fortunate--people who were poor, people who had lost their homes in a fire or flood or storm, people who didn't have the resources or opportunities to help themselves. It really seemed to sink in. We hope it did.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Has it really been a week since my last post? Wow. That doesn't happen very often and when it does, it usually means we've been busy. Well, let's see if that's true...

We hosted Thanksgiving for my mom's side of the family, so we had a lot of cleaning and preparing to do on Wednesday when Alayna was home from school. We also had a breakfast date with Andy's mom and their long-time neighbor and close friend, Velva, who had just come home from summering in Alaska. It was great to see her! Then we hit a movie at the library in place of story-time, then came home to clean and cook.

Thursday morning we watched the parade and did our final touch-ups and cooking. Mikayla dressed up for the occasion of hosting the holiday.

Thursday night my parents took the girls home with them, so I could shop and Andy could hunt on Friday. So Thursday night Andy and I went to see New Moon, his first time and my third. I loved it again and he enjoyed it as well!

Friday morning at 4:30 I left the house and headed out shopping with my friend Beth. We had a great time and got a LOT accomplished. I only have 3 more gifts to buy!! Then I came home and wrapped presents before Andy and the girls got home.

Saturday morning was cleaning up the residual mess from Thursday, then we headed to Gramma Lynn's house to pick up Daddy. Then we did this:

and found 2 great trees for our house. Once those were cut down, paid for, strapped to the Durango and we were nestled back into the vehicle, we headed back to Andy's parents' house for their Thanksgiving. We got home at bedtime, set the trees in their stands and went to bed.

Sunday morning was church, where I was teaching Sunday school and serving coffee after service. When that was all done, we went into town to do some of this with the 4H as our November activity and early December meeting:
Alayna bowling

Cousin Terri helping Lilly bowl

While waiting for the meeting to start, the girls rode a snowmobile
We had pizza and pop before the meeting, then went about business with the 4H. After the meeting was adjourned, Mikayla went into the hallway with Auntie Sherry to see what a noise was. Look what she found! She was so excited!

After the meeting, we went about delivering 13 wreaths and 2 poinsettias that Alayna sold as a fundraiser for the club. Then we came home and collapsed on the couch, ate Chinese take-out with Andy's parents and sister, and played a few games of cards before going to bed about 8:30.

This morning, poor Alayna woke up about 6:20 and said her belly hurt a little but not much. We told her to go potty, then lay back down for a bit. Well, that laying down lasted about 2 minutes before she bolted to the bathroom. Poor girl is so upset to be home today after not having school since last Tuesday. Hopefully it's a small bug that is now gone and no one else gets it!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Kid keeps me on my toes

Mikayla is such a riot and every day, she makes me and others laugh. She's always got a funny story to tell, says something hysterical or does some random dance or movement that is just too cute. This age is such fun!

Friday morning we were listening to Christmas music. "Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was playing and after Mikayla stopped laughing hysterically, she had to call her Gramma's to let them know that they were run over. When we pulled into my mom's driveway Sunday afternoon, Mikayla looks around and goes, "Nope, no reindeer!"

Sunday afternoon, Alayna and Lilly were having some issues with getting along. I was asking them to be nice to one another and prompted them with, "Remember the rule?" I was referring to The Golden Rule but Mikayla pipes up with, "No singing or dancing at the table?!" Well, that's a good one to remember too.

Sunday evening we were getting dinner ready and the girls were playing dress up. Mikayla comes upstairs with her Packers sweatshirt on, a pink sheer fairy skirt, one purple and one pink dress-up shoe, and a green and purple elastic headband from when she was probably 18 months old--on 80's sweatband style. She walked to a few feet from the oven, where she could see herself in the door, got in a perfect sumo wrestling squat and proceeded to do fake karate punches complete with "Hi-ya's!" I'm talking continuous punch-punch-punch-punch with no breaks in between. Then she calmly walked away like nothing happened. I think I peed myself.

I posted earlier today, too!

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I love everything about it--family togetherness, a wonderful meal (my favorite meal as a whole) but mostly because it's a day set aside to give thanks. Like everyone I know, I tend to take advantage of certain things. I have always had a roof over my head, so I sometimes think that it will always be there. It's something I tend to take advantage of. I've always had clothing on my back, food in my belly, material possessions like tvs, radios, books, toys...I've always had a loving family, filled with not only my parents, sister and grandparents, but many aunts, uncles and cousins who support me and love me. I have an amazing husband and 3 incredible children. I have a large network of in-laws who accepted me for me and love me because I love Andy. I have many wonderful friends. We all have our health and our happiness. I have lived a very fortunate life, but nothing very different from my neighbors or friends or relatives.

However, my life is very different from thousands--millions--of people. There are people who do not have tvs and radios. They don't have food in their stomach or clothing on their back. There are people without a home. There are people who have no family, no friends. There are people who have never known good health or true happiness.

The older I get, the more I appreciate what I have and try to help those who are less fortunate. I thank God every night for the wonderful life that I live, and I pray for those who don't have what I have. Thanksgiving is a day to really reflect on what we have, and give thanks to God for all that He has done for us. But each day should be Thanksgiving. Each day should be a day for giving thanks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I let the dogs out the other morning, and there the cats were, huddled atop a case of anti-freeze. I think they had the right idea, it just didn't work quite right. But it was only 24 degrees, so maybe it helped a little. Regardless, it made for a cute picture. And don't worry, they all got some snuggles for a few minutes before I got cold in just my pajamas and needed some anti-freeze of my own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to the World, Eddie!

This morning, one of my very best friends delivered her third baby, a little boy they named Edwin and will call Eddie! We are so very thrilled for their whole family!

Nick (the dad) and I have known one another since I was born. We grew up going to church and school together, though he was in my sister's grade. When he was in college, he met Andrea and they later got married. That's when the trouble began. Andrea and I are very much alike, but also different in ways that compliment each other. We're both chatty and a little crazy. We have similar life and parenting styles, a lot of the same interests...We also look somewhat alike, which garners a lot of comments like, "Are you two sisters?" when we're out in public, especially when we were pregnant together and due only 7 weeks apart! Lilly and Roz are the best of friends, and they also have another daughter Clara, who is only a few months younger than Mikayla. Andrea and I talk at least every other day, we get together for girls' nights or family nights, we go on mini-vacations together and watch each other's kids. We know one another's families. It's like we're family, too, not just friends. I couldn't be happier for them right now.

Welcome to the world, Eddie! I can't wait to meet you later tonight and get to know you over the coming years!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Danes don't grow thick winter coats... Marley borrowed Andy's sweatshirt. See how she's admiring herself? It looks like she's trying to figure out how to take it off, but really, she loved it. She couldn't stop walking all funny to see how it fit and moved with her. She couldn't stop nudging it, trying to get it just right. She loved it. Either that, or she totally hated it.

But she was a good sport and we only kept it on her for about 5 minutes, long enough for a few pictures. Oh, how her doggy friends will mock her if they read my blog!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Young One

I have one older sister, and that's it. Even though are only the two of us siblings, that doesn't mean we didn't have the same sibling squabbles (say that 5x fast!) or the same feelings of unfairness and injustice over something the other one got to do. I distinctly remember wanting to get chicken pox because my sister had them and got to stay with Gramma during the day, watching movies, eating ice cream and having fun. Of course, I didn't understand that they itched and hurt and all that. I was thrilled to have the pox show up a few days later, anxious for my own special time with Gramma like my sister.

In my home right now, there are 3 siblings, all sisters. I see how upset Alayna gets at times, being the oldest and therefore the one we expect the most out of because of her maturity. I see how upset Lilly sometimes gets because she can't do fun things that Alayna gets to do because she's not old enough, but she doesn't get away with certain things like Mikayla might. And I see how upset Mikayla gets, always being the baby, always trying to play catch up to the big girls.

This morning as I was getting Alayna ready for 3rd grade and Lilly ready for 4K, Mikayla woke up and announced that she was going to school. When I told her she can't go to school with the girls, she responded, "But I'm taller! I big now." Oh honey, if only it were that easy. Then as we watched the girls climb onto the bus, Mikayla proudly told me that she's going to school tomorrow. "I read my books and play outside." When I told her they do much more than that at school, she responded with, "They jump with their friends? I can jump, so I go to school!"

I can relate to that, being the younger sister. I remember my sister having her first sleep-over at our house, or at another friend's house. I remember her playing sports and me watching from the sidelines. I remember my sister and her best friend making me play all the "undesirable" characters when we played because I was littlest. I remember her driving and me sitting next to her, envious. But I also remember getting away with things that she didn't, simply because I was younger and "didn't know any better". And I remember feeling more confident in several ways because I had already watched my sister go through sports, or drivers' training, or whatever. She was my inside information, from watching her all those years.

So I understand when Mikayla wants to be like the big girls. I get it. But as Mom, I want to slow her down and make her be my little girl as long as possible. I know how fast it goes. I've been there with her two older sisters. She wants things to speed up and I want them to slow down. But instead, I play along and pretend that we have a schoolroom in the kitchen. We read books and play games, and our school is much better than real school. But she knows. She knows it's not the same. And she still wakes each day, hoping she's now tall enough to go to school like the big girls.


Every day this month, I've been posting at least one FaceBook status saying I'm thankful for something. Some days it's been something silly, like left-over Halloween candy that I can munch while the kids nap. Some days it's something not silly, but not overly huge, either. Like when I said I was thankful for a good book to get lost in. In the grand scheme of things, a book is a book. But in the moment, when I'm able to relax and enjoy a story woven by someone else, it's pretty big. Other days it's been something serious, like being thankful for a husband who takes care of the unimportant, but meaningful, things--like filling my tank with gas for me before a road-trip without him, or buying me a bottle of Sierra Mist on his way home, or setting out a towel when I'm in the shower and he sees I've forgotten to get one out myself. Challenging myself to find something to be thankful for each and every day has been an eye-opener. It's made me realize just how much I have, and how blessed I really am.

Emily at Chatting at the Sky is asking us to unwrap the daily gifts amidst the ordinary, sometimes messy, lives we live.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kid Jokes Are the Best

Lilly: Knock, Knock

Mommy: Who's there?

L: Cow.

M: Cow who?

L: Cow milking on you!

We all do the obligatory laugh, even though the joke makes no sense. But to her, she just did stand-up on the Jay Leno Show. So because we all laughed, she tells everyone the joke. Over and over. And she's so proud of her own made-up joke. I love that kid.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Welcome to the Family, Lora!

Tomorrow, my cousin Matt is getting married. It's kinda crazy to think about, because I babysat Matt, his twin sister Chrissa, and their younger sister Brianna. I remember when Matt ate nothing but chicken nuggets and pb&j. Now he's in the Navy and getting married.

Lora is one of those girls that everyone loves. She's funny, pretty, gets along with anyone and just seems at ease. She's a great match for our crazy family and we all couldn't be happier that she's joining our zany bunch.

So Matt and Lora, congrats on your marriage. May you have many happy, healthy years to enjoy one another. And Lora, welcome to the family!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins

We had a great Halloween. It was kicked off with a party for Lilly's 4K classmates at the school on Thursday, carving pumpkins on Friday night and a town Halloween party at an area school on Saturday before trick-or-treating. The girls had a great time and we had lots of compliments on our costumes.
Mikayla dug right into her pumpkin, shocking us all!

Alayna drew her own face but Daddy had to carve it

Mikayla with our rendition of Alayna's smile

Lilly with the face she drew and Daddy carved
In the Durango on our way to the party!
3 Little Pigs, Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood