Sunday, December 21, 2014

Picture Card Confessions

 Taking a one day break from photo blog catching up to bring you the status of my door decorations!

I LOVE Christmas Cards!  It is so much fun to get the mail in December... and January because we have lots of busy friends and New Year's cards work great too! I especially love Christmas Cards with photos.  I realize that some people look at them once and toss them.  I realize others hang them up for a couple of weeks or store them in a cute basket throughout the holiday's and then toss them.

I hang them on our garage walk door and basement door ALL year!  I add announcements we get throughout the year and don't take them down until the next Christmas.  At that time they go into a ziplock bag to be enjoyed and appreciated years from now.  Is this hoarding?  Not to me!  It is appreciating those special people in our lives!

I grow to love the faces of the door.  Dear friends come to mind often when I walk past them frequently.  We lift them up in prayer!  My kids learn the names of my college friends.  It is lovely.

These photos become a conversation piece in our home with almost all of our guests.  It is often fun for them to find people they know or people we often talk about.

These photos connect my children to other adoptive families.  We trade Christmas cards with many of the families who had little ones in M's orphanage and many of the families we traveled with bringing T home.  It is so special for our kids to see these families.  They love seeing pictures of families who look like our family.

I truly hope this is a tradition that I can pass on to my children!  I would love for it to outlive me.  I guess this means that with all of the technology available, people need to keep sending real paper cards!

Here are our doors right before I had to undress them.  They are starting to fill once again.  Oh the joy  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... and even Valentine's Day works too!



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pumpkin Carving


Progress was made in our home this year!  The pumpkin was carved BEFORE November!!!  We actually had a much better experience overall this year.  We set T up with some stickers to put on paper and she was good to go!  M was eager to help and we were very prepared. 

Ready to see what is hiding inside!

M: It was pretty slimy in there!

T: Can I touch it?   Me: Sure sweetie!  Go for it!

M: Looking good Daddy.  T: This sticker is stuck!

T: I love stickers!  I can play with them for minutes on end.

WOW!

One proud boy!

My glowing son!

They were really in awe!  So precious.

Time to blow it out... blowing out the candle (over and over again) was the climax of the pumpkin carving adventure.

On the night of "trick or treating" the temps were in the 30's.  M was dressed for the weather, wearing a winter coat under his uniform.  Our little T the cheerleader was struggling to stay warm and in costume.  We made it to five houses.  Four answered the door.  Only one was handing out dairy free candy so this meant that Daddy scored some chocolate and the kids only at a couple pieces of candy.  Good deal.  We set our bowl outside (after having the door open and ready for 3 hours and seeing only four kiddos) and most of it was gone... prob one or two big and daring kids since Brandon was sitting in the front living room working while they took it.  That was fine with us.  The less candy around here the better!

The cutest cheerleader and football player combo around!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fire Sation Open House!


The Fire Station Open House was anticipated almost as much as Christmas!  We had all of our "Big Day" feelings going on.  I wish we could have kept it a secret until that moment, but M was already asking about it in May (it takes place in October) so we knew the build up would be intense.  Finally the day arrived.  We tore out of church as quickly as possible.  Most of the event takes place while we are at church so we always catch the tail end of the fun.  We managed to get in not one but TWO fire truck rides.  We all rode up in the tall ladder truck lift.  The kids got to check out the inside of a few trucks, see some special tools and equipment and get suckers.  They were thrilled!!!

T: Baby wanted to ride in a real firetruck too!

M: I can't believe the moment has come!

M: I am in paradise.  I am ringing a firetruck bell while eating a sucker!

Teamwork!

Two sucker eating firetruck lovers!

Taking it all in!

M: Then I got to "drive" it all by myself.

T: I sitting in my own chair this time!

Front Seat for the second ride!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ten years ago today...

I woke up giddy. 
I had tea to calm my nerves. 
I took a shower.
I peeled potatoes and prepped a crock pot with pot roast. 
I noted the FREEZING temps outside.
I made my walk down the alley to my church.
I shooed out men lingering after their morning Bible Studies.
I prayed and reflected.
I started to get really excited.
I got all fancy and made up. * (see below)
I smiled for many photos.
I laughed.
I cried.
I was prayed over.
I walked down a flight of stairs and met my daddy.
I watched my dear sweet friends walk down the aisle.
I heard our cue "... So here I am to worship..."
I was reminded by my daddy to take my time.
I was crying and smiling.
I hugged my daddy
I saw my incredible Brandon.
I experienced a lovely church service  ** wedding service.
I said "I do."
I married my best friend! 

Classic wedding photo which shows my personality (and Brandon's quite well)


It was a lovely day!  It was a day when time stood still.  It was a day that felt like a taste of heaven as we were surrounded by dear friends and family from every life stage.  It was the beginning of something great.

The last ten years had its share of miracles, blessings, laughter, and joy.  I am so thankful and blessed.  I have grown so much more deeply in love with my husband than I had the ability to comprehend ten years ago.  He is my partner in life and in love.  The way I think and live and talk and reason has been forever changed.  

The last ten years had its share of hardships, deaths, losses, trials, temptations, and weariness.  Many of these things I wish we would not have been asked to walk through.  Many of these valleys were deep.  Many of these trials seem endless.  BUT We have grown as a couple through these harder things.  We have come to rely on each other.  We know what they other needs and doesn't need.  We know what to say and what not to say.  We know how to support the other through the trials.  We have learned about accountability.  We have grieved together.  Our faith has been tested and it has sustained us!

The last ten years have showed us that there are THREE in this marriage.  Without God where would we be?  He has been our life and marriage sustainer.  He has been our teacher in loving one another and in putting others needs above our own.  He continues to author a story that we never would have believed ten years ago.

The last ten years have been life changing.  We went from newlyweds in the safety of the college ministry setting to grad school and City (or suburban) living 12 hours away from our first home.  After four years near the City we left the grad school/nanny life and headed north to the Lake. Again we crossed to a different state and very different lifestyle than what we had gotten used to.  Besides the moves we crossed the seas several times sometimes for pleasure and other times to grow our family.  Each move and travel and adoption drew us closer together and grew us an individuals and as a family. 

10 years later!


In ten years we have grown older and wiser.  We have become better communicators.  We have learned much about empathy.  We have become aware of how deeply we all need Grace every single day! 

We had a lovely anniversary today!  A touch of illness/infection caused plans to be changed a bit, but we rolled with it and ended up having an incredible day.  Brandon filled my day with hidden notes of encouragement/affirmation (he knows my love language), flowers, and a lovely personal designed card.  Friends watched our kids for a few hours and even with less than par health we enjoyed some bites of food, playing five different games, and looking at wedding photos!  Sometime soon we will go out to eat and celebrate, but tonight at home was lovely.  It was sort of a reflection of the last ten years.  It wasn't what we were planning, but it ended up being wonderful.

And...

I am pretty sure that our marriage is really just beginning so the story isn't over friends!

If you want to hear about how the story began, click HERE!
----
Notes from above:
*I was only fancy by my standards.  I had a basic "Bob" cut and nothing was done to my hair.  I had on no fingernail polish.  I was wearing no extra jewelery. 

** We had a full band.  We had 8 or 9 songs throughout and 5 of them were audience participation.  The service was a full hour and had every element typical of a service with an added wedding bonus.

Greats and Grands and College friends!


This fall we made several trips to my home state.  Brandon was the speaker at a Cru conference and we tagged along and stayed with my parents.  It was a blessing that a dear friend from college was in the area and able to spend some time with us.  We also had professional photos taken of our immediate and larger family.  Very special memories.  We were all  thankful to see Brandon again at the end of the weekend.  The kids ROCKED it on the drive home and we didn't stop a single time.  Over 6.5 hours of car time with zero stops.  Sure we limits drinks, the snacks flowed freely, and the DVD player worked hard, but we NEVER stopped!!!! 


On the way to my parents' home we stopped at my grandma's house.  She played "bus" with the kids on the stairs.  The loved it, but didn't really enjoy sitting still.
Riding the bus!

It was such a blessing for my friend Amanda and her girls to join us.  My kids loved her kids.  They played pretty well together.  It was very challenging to get them all in the same screen!

M: Come on girls, let's play in the corn!

Everyone together!

M: And then you will never guess what happened...

Telling stories!

M wanted to be right in the middle of the girls!

Abounding Joy!

M loves Uncle Bret's farm toys.  He can find unique ways to haul many things at the same time.

T: Weeee  M: Keep hanging on T!

A little chillier than the summer!

On the long ride home I looked in one of my "kid mirrors" (yes I have two kids and two kid mirrors... I highly recommend it) and saw this little girl totally relaxing in her seat!
This is the life!  Snacks, movies, and stretching out!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fall Getaway!

This fall we joined my family for a weekend adventure.  Actually we were there only 24ish hours, but we will call it a weekend.  The rented a condo and our family and my brother's family joined them.  We had many special moments playing together!  Besides all the things we did, we somehow managed to eat tasty food too. We had many intense moments, but the pictures remind me of treasured memories.

M brought his football so there was much football playing.  He had recently learned how to throw a spiral and wanted to show off his skills!

Team huddle in progress
I love these photos of my dad and M.   They are so sweet and I just couldn't decide which one to post so I am sharing them all.  Also, the conversation is totally fake and written based on the gestures in the photos ;)


"Grandpa, what are you looking at?"

"I see a squirrel over there."  "Where Grandpa?"

"Here, sit on my lap and I will help you find it."
M was a BIG talker about mini-golfing.  It turns out it takes a lot of concentration and patience... not super exciting for my 5 year old boy.  However, at least one person testified with him that he got a "hole in one" miracle shot.


"Um, which one do I hit it into?"

"OK, how does this work again?"

Teamwork!

The place my parents stayed had a small water park type center.  It was perfect for our kids.  The "big" slide was just the right length to be thrilling and also short enough for them to go all by themselves.  I was so proud of each of them. 


Here comes M!

Here's T!

Such a big girl!  Such a happy girl!

Happy boy!!!  He never tired of the slide!

In an effort to pack A LOT into a little time we decided to go to a "pumpkin farm."  Once we arrived we realized that the pumpkin part was quite small and the play area was quite large.  We had a great time playing on different things, feeding animals, and chasing kids.  It started to rain just as we were about to go.  This made the perfect escape plan.  Fun memories!


22 pounds of muscle!  This girl's middle name is adventure!

M: I am really feeding him all my myself.  T: I want to try too!

This photo almost looks staged.  The kids had great fun racing their ducks.

T: I good goat feeder too!

T: Mom, the animals just keep coming.  M: I think we might need more food!

This has now become a full-time job!

M: Why are Daddy and Grandpa trying to get on this toy?

M: Watch out world, here I come!

Let's race!

T: Mine won't move.  M: You have to be able to reach the pedals. 

A little workout before the drive home!

Look at that focus!