Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Christmas 2017 Recap

Here we are, halfway through January February and I feel like I am finally coming out from the other side of Christmas. I got all my decor taken down last weekend, threw away all the stale Christmas cookies in my pantry, and am working on sorting through some reflections. I wanted to take a minute to recap here on my blog just for posterity and to remember what we did for future years. It seems silly, but even this year we were like, "What time did we go to Christmas Eve service last year?"..sometimes the devil is in the details. :o) 

The girls loved the Christmas season and were on board with all the festivities, Santa and baby Jesus. Three is so much fun, it can get lost in how hard it is, too (times two!). 

One thing that really surprised me was how much of a good helper they were in making holiday treats. I was not expecting it or anticipating it and it ended up being some really nice family moments. They were really good at opening up all the little candies, which is usually the most time consuming part of making those little pretzel cookies or the peanut butter ones. 

Michael did a great job in his program at church and we were so proud of him! It is such a nice family holiday day. My favorite part is just getting to church super early and having time to visit while you wait for the program to start. 

Give me all the Christmas jammies!! 

Again, I was not anticipating the girls having any interest in helping with sugar cookies but they loved it. Michael was such a good helper big brother, it was fun to see him show them the ropes. We made these just a few days before Christmas (the 22nd, I think). I usually cut them out one night and then decorate them the next day. I even made a smaller batch this year and it still felt like too many- they are just so darn fun to cut out and bake. 

Lots and lots of Christmas stories...I keep expanding my collection (I cannot resist a good Christmas book) but I feel like we keep running out of time to read them all. I think we'd have to read about five every single day to get through them all but we all have our favorites we want to keep re-reading. My favorites are the ones you can sing along to. I saw lots of people sharing their favorites this year- maybe an idea for next year (they are all put away now, of course). 

Decorating cookies and more candy unwrapping! The girls and Michael were the sprinklers and did a really good job of taking turns. 

Long convos with Rudolph. 

We finally got our family schedule worked out so we can have my side of Christmas on the years my mom is off work (she works every other holiday). I hope this will work itself into a nice rhythm in the years to come with us being able to alternate celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom hasn't been able to come to a Christmas on the actual holiday since the year she had her accident and that was just because she was on leave from work at the time (2013).

Anyway, my parents and Denise came for lunch on Christmas Eve day (we had soup) and then we headed downtown for Hope's Christmas Eve service at Wells Fargo Arena. We went to the 2:00 service. It was the first year they were doing it at Wells Fargo and I was excited. There were tons of promises about how much room there would be and plenty of room for everyone to bring two guests. What I didn't anticipate was the traffic, the amount of time it would take to park, and then the time it would take to walk. Usually when we are going to events at Wells Fargo, we are not toting two toddlers with us. It was also very snowy and the sidewalks were slippery and slushy- which involved lots of lifting little girls up and down over puddles. All that being said, it was a little hectic once inside but it worked. I felt like we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there but if they do it again next year, I would leave even earlier. 

It is so hard as those services are so busy at Hope. I liked going to the Hub, but it still made me worried about getting a spot to sit. I know these are all silly problems, what a great thing to have lots of people trying to get to church on Christmas Eve! It was a great service and I loved it. I thought it was so exciting having it at Wells Fargo and seeing all the people there. The kids were awesome and very well behaved. 

We stopped at the cemetery very briefly as it was super cold and then headed back home for dinner of meatballs, veggie pizza, veggies, and cookies. 

Christmas morning was so magical as usual...everyone was so pleased with their gifts and stockings from Santa. 

We had a brunch of baked french toast (our tradition), sausage, fruit and mimosas/coffee. It was so good! 

Christmas dinner was a bit of a bust as my brother and his daughter couldn't make it as they were under the weather and my other brother and his wife weren't able to make it. It was still lovely, and the ham was delicious and easy to prepare. We also had rolls, salad, fruit, and cheesy potatoes. And we can't forget mom's famous strawberry salad (so good!). 

All in all, it was a great holiday and went smoothly! For more, check out our christmas video below: 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 

Merry Christmas! 

I can hardly believe the end of December is upon us and we are quickly approaching 2018. It has been a blur of a year and I'm not quite sure where it all went! 

Our family continues to be happy and healthy this year and we realize what a blessing this is. Our days click on with a regular pulse and there is great comfort and joy in that. 

Michael turned eight in October and is enjoyed 2nd grade. He is improving so quickly in reading and it is fun to listen to him read some of his special books he picks out himself. His favorite series have been Diary of a Wimpy Kid (so funny and the movies are great, too!), A Series of Unfortunate Events (books are written cleverly, we also listened to some on audio which Michael loved and the Netflix series with NPH is hilarious), and of course Harry Potter. We are at the very tail end of the 5th Harry Potter Book, The Order of the Phoenix, with only two chapters to go before our goal of Christmas. 

Michael has been playing hockey this fall and winter and he is turning into a good little skater. He goes on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons and Scott has been helping him on the ice. I am happy it is something special they can do together. 

We also welcomed a new pet, Harry the hamster, into our family this summer. He is very cute and is warming up to me especially since I love to snuggle with him. Hamsters are great pets as they are fun to watch and a good for responsibility for Michael as we have to make sure and keep his cage clean and food bowl full. 

Michael has also been loving his Legos, playing minecraft, and playing his Nintendo switch. He also loves all kinds of bitty stuffed animals and all things fluffy! 

Anna and Brynn turned three in September and are keeping us on our toes as smart and sassy three year olds! They are busy figuring out how the world works and how to get what they want, all while having a sister right there to boss around, annoy, or love on. Great fun is had when they are together and it is really special to watch. They love all things Disney princess, animals, and babies. They love to sing and are quick to pick up new songs or make up their own. 

In case you are keeping track, the girls got fourth place this year at the twins contest at the fair. It was a really nice day spent with family and my mom and Scott's mom joined us this year. 

Work continues to go well for Scott and I. Scott recently was awarded entry into the Team Member Hall of Fame for State Farm and we got to spend a fun night in Omaha. I am proud of his hard work in protecting families and their lives. I am in year 13 of teaching band and year six at Boone Middle School. I started my masters of music education at the University of Northern Iowa this fall and it is going well. It is amazing how it is all done online via video conferencing and sharing files on google classroom. It has brought a renewed focus and passion to my career and I am hoping to have the program wrapped up by the time the girls go to kindergarten. 

Scott and I took a week-long trip to Vail, CO in March for spring break with friends. It was a fun four days of skiing and we felt pretty special flying out there instead of driving. I spent a lot of time doing easy greens and catwalks, enjoying the scenery, and listening to music. It was the perfect trip (mixed in with watching the Cyclones in the NCAA tourney) and we were thankful my mom watched the kids while we were away. 

My mom, sister and I spent a weekend in Chicago to celebrate my sister's 25th birthday where we did some sightseeing and saw Hamilton and Aladdin. Hamilton was so moving to see and something I still think about and reflect on. We are looking forward to seeing it again this summer when it comes to Des Moines!  

The Cyclones had a very fun football season with wins over OU and TCU for homecoming. It was truly the most fun I've had as a fan and it made games something to look forward to each week. I broke out of my comfort zone and marched with the alumni band for homecoming as they received the Sudler trophy for excellence in college marching bands. We are traveling to Memphis after Christmas to watch one more Cyclone game and are crossing our fingers for a victory! 

I am excited to host my family at my house this Christmas. The girls are all about Christmas and how special it is, and Michael too. The girls favorite thing to do is ask each other what they want for Christmas and then they list off a huge list (basically saying every word in their vocabulary) and they are confused when they ask me and I say, "for everyone to be safe and happy". It is the biggest blessing and one I do not take for granted. 

We do miss our angel Trace, especially at this time of year when he cannot be here on earth with us. We have faith in the promise that Christmas brings with the birth of baby Jesus and cling tightly to that hope. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:10-12

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Brenton Arboretum

I took my camera out today to delete my card before a family photoshoot and realized that I had quite a few photos that I hadn't shared yet! I have not been good about pulling it out this summer and that is a good reminder to myself to keep it handy especially on weekends now that we are getting busy with back to school things. 

We took an afternoon excursion over to Brenton Arboretum on a cool but sunny August day and it was so beautiful!

Anna is so funny- I asked her to smell the flowers and she is obviously smelling...a stick. Did it at least smell good?

The arboretum has this super fun natural playground for kids and yes...it is mostly sticks and sand but it is super fun. I think they would play here all day if I let them. I like going here but it is super sunny and so it can get warm on hot days. 

I hope to update a few more times before August gets the better of me! See you soon!

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