Christmas Wrap-Up

After all the excitement leading up to Christmas, it’s hard to believe it’s over.

We got a box in the mail with gifts from Grandma.  Brendan really enjoyed the empty box – good to know for next year.

  DSC_0687-001 Tom and Brendan had a “stay home day” the day that his class decorated gingerbread houses.  When we got to school the following Monday and he saw them all on display, his disappointment was obvious.  I promised we would make one together that weekend.  And he asked me no less than two dozen times if we could do it “now.”  Saturday morning rolled around and at 7 a.m. he was out of the bed and knew that it was the promised day.  We got straight to work. My commissary online order left out my can of Duncan Hines frosting so we had to start by making some from scratch. DSC_0688-001 Let the decorating begin! DSC_0699 DSC_0708-001 The finished product. DSC_0717-001 We followed that up with homemade sugar cookies.  From scratch. DSC_0724-001 I have two words for this process:  Never Again.

This new book came in the mail from Grammy.  I almost wish I hadn’t suggested it.  It. Is. Sooo. Long.  And he wants to read it every single night.  I breathe a sigh of relief on the nights when it’s Dad’s turn. DSC_0732-001 DSC_0733-001 Christmas Eve rolled around and we had to select the perfect cookies for Santa. DSC_0735-001 DSC_0737 He must have liked the cookies since he dropped off some serious loot. DSC_0739 DSC_0740 DSC_0745 Tom and I got up early on Christmas morning to make sure we intercepted him before he came into the living room and saw all his stuff.  I had the video camera ready.  He normally takes a few minutes to wake up and that morning was no different.  We definitely did not get the reaction we were looking for, but after a few minutes he perked right up. DSC_0747-001 DSC_0751-001 DSC_0760-001 His stocking was the first thing he tore into.  That would have been strictly prohibited when I was growing up.  Ha! DSC_0763 I have a suspicion that Santa brought this racetrack mostly for Dad. DSC_0771 DSC_0778-001 DSC_0788-001 DSC_0794-001 DSC_0809 DSC_0816-001 DSC_0822   DSC_0825 His sister (she knows who she is) used to cheat at this game.  He will follow in her footsteps if we don’t watch him closely. DSC_0826-001 Thankfully, the weather was nice enough that we could get outside for a bit. DSC_0836-001 DSC_0839-001 DSC_0841-001 DSC_0843-001 DSC_0858-001

And that wraps it up for another year.  I haven’t picked up my camera since Christmas Day.  Time to get back into a routine.  Happy New Year!

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Getting Ready

We’ve spent the past few weeks getting ready for Christmas.

Baking cookies.

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And waiting impatiently.

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Finally!

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Since Christmas came so late we decorated our tree the weekend before Thanksgiving.

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My favorite Christmas decoration.  Ever.

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Personally, I am SO excited to have a fireplace this year.  I think these two like it as well.

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He still loves to bowl, and our new kitchen floor is perfect for it.

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Watching movies.

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Garland came back, and he brought treats!

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Spoiled rotten.

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Eating cookies and watching a movie.  It’s a rough life.

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Fall

So far this fall we have been…

…enjoying our new house…

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…taking advantage of the cooler weather and drinking hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows…

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…acting silly…

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…we went trick-or-treating in the forest (which was a big let down)…

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…having a fire and eating s’mores.

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Oh, and we have a big announcement, too.

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New addition to arrive in April.  I say girl, Tom says boy.  We’ll see who’s right.

Brendan had a field trip to our favorite pumpkin patch.  We met up with his class at lunch time and while the rest of the kids went back to school to take a nap, he got to spend the afternoon with us.

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This boy was so excited about carving jack-o-lanterns.

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Grandparents came to visit and Brendan loved the extra attention.

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He was so excited to trick-or-treat!

 

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We brought his wagon along thinking we’d just pull him when he got tired.  He never once complained about being tired and I think we had been out about 40 minutes before he ever asked to open a piece of candy.

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While his grandparents were here, he got to take a bath in the big bathtub, occasionally with the jets turned on.

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He attended his second Lowe’s Build & Grow clinic.  If you have never been to one of these, we highly recommend it.  It’s free, but sign up fast.

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Now it feels as though fall has pretty much left us and winter is settling in.  Yuck.  Is it spring yet??

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Home

Last month Brendan and I headed home to Virginia for the first time in over two years.  Dad had to work so it was just the two of us. One of our first outings was to meet this guy at the zoo. DSC_0160-002 And we can’t leave out this little cutie, who was highly upset when it was time to get off the carousel. Their mom and I met our first day at CNU when we were randomly selected to be roommates.  Back then they stuck three girls in a room, and as usual, three was a crowd.  We preferred it being just the two of us and managed to go through about four third roommates.  It’s hard to believe that was 13 years ago. DSC_0161-002 DSC_0173-001 Although you can’t tell it, these boys are only four months apart.  Will dwarfed Brendan.     DSC_0168-002 DSC_0190-001 DSC_0196-001 DSC_0187 Although I took this picture, I have no recollection of my son kissing this goat. DSC_0208-001 Big boys riding the train by themselves. DSC_0203-001 DSC_0217-001 DSC_0219-001 We got to see lots of family. DSC_0151-001 Uncle Ken’s going to read him a bedtime story over Skype.  Technology is so cool. DSC_0149-001 I think kids who get to meet their great-grandparents are so incredibly lucky.  This kid has three great-grandmas and a great-grandpa.  Doesn’t get much better than that. DSC_0222-001 DSC_0227-001 DSC_0228-001 Grammy took us to see Disney On Ice. DSC_0238-001 DSC_0231 His favorite part was the magic brooms from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a movie he has never even seen. DSC_0239-001 DSC_0241-001 DSC_0242-001 DSC_0267 DSC_0270 DSC_0294-001 It cracks me up that my dad has these license plates from when Adam and I were teenagers. DSC_0299 He likes for someone else to read to him, but when it’s time to get tucked in, this boy wants his mama. DSC_0303 DSC_0304 DSC_0307-001 DSC_0311-001 Playing Duck, Duck, Goose. DSC_0316-001 DSC_0319-001 First time I’ve ever seen Granddad read a story. DSC_0320 Since our grandparents live just a few houses away from each other, our families are friends.  Nanny and Pa are always invited to eat at Grandma’s house, and vice versa.

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The grandparents wanted to take Brendan to Chuck E. Cheese, and while I despise that place, he loves it.  Off we went.

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This picture cracked me up.  I texted it to Tom and his response was, “Natural born killer.  I knew it all along.”

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On our last day Brendan helped Grammy make some suet for the birds.  He enjoyed it, but peanut butter is one of the ingredients and it broke his arms out since he mixed it with his hands.  I won’t make that mistake again.

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Uncle Cory had to sneak in and get some sugar.

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I’m not sure when we’ll get home again.  Tom promises it won’t be another two years, so we will see!

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GLOW

Last weekend we were invited to the hot air balloon festival across the river in Iowa.  Tom had to work, but Brendan and I packed our blanket and headed out around dinner time.  He LOVES to be out and about so he was pretty excited about it, although I’m not totally sure he knew what a hot air balloon was. DSC_0066-001   DSC_0067-001 DSC_0068 He loved it.  He hit me up for an ice cream as soon as we got there.  As it turned out, that huge ice cream sandwich was his dinner.  Hey, you’re only a kid once. DSC_0069-001 Hi Lilly! DSC_0071-001 DSC_0073-001 He really was enthralled.  I was impressed! DSC_0078-001 DSC_0083-001 He had to get just a little bit closer to the action. DSC_0086-001 DSC_0087-001 Once the balloons took off, we wandered around the orchard to check things out.  Of course that meant hitting the playground. DSC_0095-001 Note to self:  next year dress him in old clothes and tennis shoes, NOT flip flops. DSC_0101-001 DSC_0112 DSC_0115 DSC_0122-001 DSC_0123-001 OF COURSE he had to climb to the top of this dirt/tire pile.  See him? DSC_0125

And jumping off of it was the best part.

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He got a little tired but we had to hang in there for the “glow.”

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The balloons returned and their pilots would fire them up.  The catch was that everyone had to shout, “5-4-3-2-1 GLOW!”  Brendan was good at it.

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Once they all got back they let us onto the field to see the balloons up close.  We walked around collecting balloon cards (similar to baseball cards).  One guy even let kids get in!

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The highlight of his night, for sure.

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He loves to carry his balloon cards around with him.  He put them on his bookshelf at bedtime the other night.  Somewhere around 5 a.m. he got in bed with us.  As I snuggled him something poked me.  It was those dang cards in his hand.

He has since been talking about balloons constantly.  He found balloons in one of our kitchen drawers and just had to have some blown up.  Dad taught him this neat trick.

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It was a blast and we want Daddy to come with us next year!

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Just Stuff…and a Field Trip!

It’s been a busy few weeks around here.  I feel like I keep saying that and then think things will slow down but they haven’t yet.

One afternoon I introduced Brendan to the childhood wonder that is Fun Dip.

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He was definitely a fan.

Our biggest news is that we bought a house!  I was nervous to mention much about the process because so much could go wrong, but we’ve been homeowners now for two weeks.  We LOVE our house, although we don’t particularly love some of the work it needs.  But we have plenty of time to get it done.  One of the best parts is that Brendan now has his very own playroom and Tom and I don’t have to look at toys strung all over our living room.

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Last weekend as we got ready to leave the playroom for nap time, Brendan told me, “I don’t want to put my toys away,” and it was so wonderful to just tell him, “You don’t have to.”

This week I chaperoned my very first of his field trips.  We went to the Children’s Museum.

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It makes me so happy that he loves books.

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Harvesting some corn…since he’s a Cornhusker and all.

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The kids had a blast and the five adults kept up with all 18 preschoolers.  I’ll call

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Summer Wrap-Up

The last few weeks of our summer all wrapped up into one post.  Here goes….

We got ourselves out of the house one morning and headed across the town to go roller skating.  It was Brendan’s first time.

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He loved skating…as long as Kirsten was pushing him around the rink.

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Skate Daze is more than just a skating rink.  There are video games, an indoor play area, laser tag, and a mini roller coaster.  The roller coaster happened to be a train and he still talks about it three weeks later.

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First game of laser tag.  He got scared and Kirsten had to carry him the whole time.

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His favorite new game is “shooting the bad guys.”  This is something I’m not especially thrilled with, but these two love it.  He creeps around the side of the house, usually telling his partner to “get behind me!” so he can surprise the bad guys.

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I think they got them this time.

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This girl thrives on one-on-one attention, mostly from me.  Unfortunately, with a 3-year-old brother around, she doesn’t get a whole lot of it.  One night we asked Dad to watch Brendan so we could make a dessert – S’mores Rice Krispies Treats.  Yum.

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She takes “licking the bowl” to the next level.  She needed the towel because they kept getting stuck in her hair.

Watching Nanny McPhee.

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Now that Brendan is a big boy and is in the preschool room, his class does tons of fun stuff.  I was invited to a picnic a couple weeks ago.  They requested RSVPs because each kid made their parent’s sandwich.  I had the best turkey sandwich (with gobs of mayo) of my life.

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This summer Brendan has developed a love for baseball.  He has been to two Storm Chasers games and lasted for the duration of the games.  He loves to hit the ball off his tee in the backyard.  He’s learning the concept so do you know what was next?  He had to learn the “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” song.  I got him a book from the library that just so happened to have a CD included.  He now knows all the words.  Reading the book one night before bed he told me, “Maybe I need a baseball glove.”  I casually mentioned that to Tom one afternoon and within an hour he had new gear.

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Much to my dismay, they decided they needed to practice in the house.  ???

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Can anyone else tell by this picture how much this little boy adores his daddy?

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Outside – that’s more like it!

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One weekend we headed to Fontenelle Forest for a family hike and picnic.  In the main building they had animals on display.

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Two kids were fearless; one was not.

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Arguing over the xylophone…even though there was another one right beside it.

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Now pouting about it….

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Smiling with the success of irritating her sister….

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Now she has gotten her way and all is right with the world.

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I forgot to pack Brendan his own sandwich.  Mom fail.

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This kid has a rough life.  Movie and snack first thing in the morning.

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More baseball.

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Dad took this – because she’s constantly on this phone.

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Both girls were invited to sleepovers their last weekend here.  I think it’s safe to say they made a few friends.  On our last night together we had dinner out, and the three of us went for ice cream after Brendan went to sleep.

Some last day play time.

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And a few snuggles, too.

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The girls’ departure wasn’t too dramatic.  Brendan, Makayla, and I spent their last morning at the farmer’s market.  Kirsten had to stay home and pack since she had waited until the last minute.  When the three of us got home it was time for Brendan’s nap.  He hugged and kissed them goodbye and they were at the airport when he woke up.

I’m taking a poll.  I’m working on learning to cut Brendan’s hair.  What do you think?

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We’ve been doing our grocery shopping together early in the morning on Furlough Fridays.  I let him choose the ice cream and he was thrilled to spot chocolate ice cream with M&Ms.  That is his request 99% of the time that we go out to get ice cream.

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He and his big sister are definitely cut from the same cloth.  Neither one can listen.  Tom and I both told him to leave the ashes alone and he refused until he was covered.

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This cool dude insisted on wearing his sunglasses to school.

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A little early morning bowling on the Wii.

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On our last Furlough Friday together I wanted to do something special.  First I made Brendan go with me to Lowe’s to order the new refrigerator for our new house.  Then we went to paint pottery.

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At the Creation Station you choose your piece, then your colors and go to town.

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Had I known when he chose it that this racecar bank was 25 bucks we would have chosen something different.  But oh well, he’ll have it forever.

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This is what I call a true work of art.  We’ll pick up the finished product this weekend once it’s finished being fired in the kiln.

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Whew!  In the moment it felt like the longest summer ever but now looking back I can’t believe it went by so quickly.

 

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