Welcome to the Hickstionary, a landing spot for all things H family.
I'm Heidi. He's Rusty. And together we have our beautiful babe, Beckett and a furry menace, Dakota.
I mostly use this space to brag about how awesome the kid is, whine about how naughty the dog is & share an occasional deep thought.
Thanks for hanging out with us as we figure out this [blessed] life!

If you are looking for my photography blog (where words don't tend to fall out of my mouth nearly as freely), visit {captured by} heidi.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

shower, swimming, shamrock shakes and other sunday stuff

Full day… here are the highlights…

Church. We just finished up the Genesis series. It was such a good one. Go back and watch all the videos (start with today's).

Baby Shower. My lovely in-laws had an amazing little shower for baby girl today. We felt so loved. I have been really feeling overwhelmed with all we have to do and get before baby. And when I'm being really honest, I've been kinda sad that baby girl is getting the shaft compared to B (of course he was completely beyond spoiled by everyone and I know this). So I (the person that usually hates showers) was beyond excited about today. It was just so awesome that the women in R's family made the time and missed out on their own stuff today to get together and celebrate our baby girl. My SIL even missed her little guy's very last wrestling (thing?). I seriously just wanted to cry. (Full disclosure- I did when I was putting the cute little baby girl things away.) They took the time to love on our little girl. They spoiled her with some adorable baby girl things, some much needed (huge) things off the list, and some gift cards to some of my very favorite places to shop (they know me too well- Amazon and Baby Gap clearance here I come). :) I sat down to make a Target registry (so I can get the registry discount, of course) and it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as it was a few days ago. There's still a lot of random stuff not on there (witch hazel pads… tmi?), but it seems a lot more doable just knowing we have people in our corner. I seriously can't say thank you enough. Seriously. Thanks.  (And I love the below pic because 1. Cutest little girl outfit ever. I want it in my size. 2. The box of scratch cupcakes. 3. B's face. He totally knows his world is about to be invaded with all things little girl. He was super excited to help open gifts until he realized it was all girly things for sister.) :) 

Nap. Because, duh. (We did miss connection group but I'm quite certain I wouldn't have made it through the day without the nap. Sorry, groupies.)

Swimming Lessons. Ohmygoodness. Have I mentioned these here yet? B is a little fish! He hops in the pool for lessons and doesn't stop smiling the entire time. He's even happy to get out cause he loves the pool showers and happy to leave cause he has daddy trained to get him 'uncle donald's' afterwards. (McDonalds.) It has for sure been the highlights of our weeks lately and I was kinda sad this was his last night of them. We're even thinking about doing the summer ones for the next level. 

Shamrock Shakes. They're back! I don't even know if I actually like these or if I just like all they stand for… the end of basketball is in sight. Spring break is around the corner. Warmer weather is coming our way. And this year….. it's almost time to meet baby girl! I get excited every year to see the shamrock shake ads and always have to have at least one. B and I split one tonight and he started singing 'shake it off.' Because why wouldn't you. It made the shamrock shake even better for me. 

Sleep. I'm off to bed and praying B decides Monday is a good day to sleep in. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

baby girl bump pics

In case you missed it- I talked R into taking some baby bump pics. You can find more over on cbh. (And you guys- I didn't even photoshop out the bags under my eyes or the wrinkles. I feel like that's definitely note worthy. Full disclaimer, there was lots of makeup involved.) ;)

I feel like the bump is huge these days. Then I saw the above pic and realized it's bigger than I thought it was. Holy Moly. Also, if you look closely you can tell how much she was moving during the session. (And pretty much all the time.) There are literally pictures where you can see how she is laying and how my shirt is pulled into wrinkles from my belly stretching across to the other side. SO weird. (Related- she really does move like that pretty much all the time. The only thing I've found so far to calm her down is a bath. Pray for us.) ;)

This Wednesday will mark 34 weeks. Six weeks from yesterday is how far I made it with B. Six weeks from today is my locked in date on the baby pool. Six weeks from Wednesday is my due date. Six weeks from two weeks from now is likely when she'll decide to make her appearance. ;) Either way, we are getting closer and still haven't pulled out the baby gear yet. Anyone feel like washing and putting back together the carseat for her? ;) (Seriously though, why are those so annoying?)

And if you're interested in following my 'mini blog' these days, you can follow along on instagram. I feel bad it's turned into a mini blog these days but to actually sit at the computer and blog? Who has time for that?! ;)

Monday, February 2, 2015

officially nesting

The nesting bug has officially hit our house. More specifically, the 'what the heck is she thinking nesting bug.'

R came home from work (basketball, actually) about a week ago and cautiously asked… 'why is everything off the walls upstairs?' Judging by the look on his face, he already knew.

Our main living area (kitchen, living room, dining room, breakfast nook, hallways) all open up to each other in one big area. It's the only area of our home that hasn't been painted (or really even touched much at all) since we've moved in. That's over six years of brown walls everywhere you look. That's a lot. (Have I mentioned our bedroom and master bath have each been about 5 or more colors since we've moved in? I'm not one to commit to colors very long. Six+ years is a LONG time.) When I was pregnant with B I had the major itch to paint upstairs but R talked me out of it. Once B came along, we knew it was too big of a project to take on with a baby. Then he started walking. Then we sort of forgot about it.


I knew when the itch hit again I just needed to dive in get started. I knew if I thought about it logically too long it would never happen. Thus taking everything off the walls approximately two minutes after I decided it was happening. :) (I'm not saying it was a good idea. I'm just saying that's how it happened. I don't recommend that method.)

We've had paint chips for possible replacement colors in the house for over a year now (and I've been mulling them over off and on that entire time). So I had an idea of a color but couldn't commit to one. I eventually did eenie meenie and prayed a little bit and ended up with Modern Gray (Sherwin Williams color but I had it mixed with the Valspar paint + primer at Lowes). It's a super light gray with no blues in it (which is typically my issue with grays).  I asked the paint lady at Lowes for the formula to make sure there were no blues. The formula looked safe so I went with it. She suggested starting with a sample before buying the 5 gallon non-refundable bucket. I went with the bucket. :|

I'll spare you the details on the painting drama. (Long story short we have some touch up work and ceiling work to do…) But it's (basically) DONE! (yay!)

I only cried about it for two days after it went on the walls.

I was in a slight design identity crisis.

I started grabbing random things from around the house and trying them in different spots upstairs. And even started liking a few of them.

Eventually I landed on a new design identity- I'm calling it 'industrial charm meets mid-century modern.'

And things started taking off from there.

We still have a ways to go so I don't have many details to share yet but here are two quick pics from Instagram….

(Sharpie wall tutorial on Vintage Revivals. It is well with my soul canvas was made with the community silhouette and is most definitely grey on gold and not black. For obvious reasons. And I can't wait to show you what's going on the back wall where the painter's tape is. I think it's my favorite thing I've ever made!)

Hopefully I'll have more of the million shades of grey makeover to share soon…

We'll see. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

family pictures

Some of the Oklahoma crew visited last weekend for a belated Christmas. I managed to talk Amy into some family belly pics because I thought it was going to be 50 out. As it turned out, the wind picked up and brought a cold front with it and it felt about 0 instead. My idea of pics in a field blew by with the cold front and we settled for some super quick pics in an alley instead (for the record- it was still windy and cold even with the extra walls). Big thanks to Amy for braving the cold with us for what could possibly be our last official family of three pics (really?!).

(Also, I'm hoping there's at least one more warmish day before baby's debut so I can wear the outfit I had originally planned on for some quick pics of the bump in the field. I think I've convinced R to play photographer so stay tuned for that.) ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

my favorite things about three (so far)

I was completely bummed when B outgrew the awesome two year old scene but he's hit his groove with three and it's looking pretty awesome so far too.

Some of my favorite things about him right this minute:

He asks for kisses in his hand to save for later. He stores them in his pockets and under his pillow and sometimes sneaks them onto his cheek and convinces mama to give him a spare. He likes to give us kisses in our hands to save for later too.

He tells us all about how Jesus lives in his heart (because 'Jesus told me that He does!'). He tells us about how Jesus helps him to not be scared and to be strong. And he tells us about how Jesus likes juice (mostly red hawaiian punch) and ice cream too if we could please give him more of those things. :)

His prayers these days are usually something like, "Thank you for all the food. Thank you for all my rest. Thank you for naps and all of my blessings. AAAAA!!! Men!" Tonight's bedtime prayer was, "Dear Jesus thank you for all of the animals. A! Men!" He typically requests to say mealtime prayers because he knows his are short and sweet. He's even been asking to do it in front of other people these days which has been a huge step of bravery for the little guy.

He started watching non-animated shows this week (Chalotte's Web and Beethoven) and all of a sudden I stopped hating screen time. (Daniel Tiger, Mickey Mouse, Bob The Builder, Clifford, Jake, etc etc aren't all that bad…. until you've seen them all a million times.) And he's actually been doing way less screen time this winter than last. (We're saving up on screen time binging for when the baby arrives.) ;)

His play has just been so awesome to see lately. He is loving hoops now. He cooks in his restaurant all the time. He loves his corn pool (his 'orchard' as he calls it). He pretends all sorts of crazy things. He loves a good dance party (courtesy of DJ B, of course). And we've started playing family games. He even knows (and mostly follows) the rules of memory now. He generally wins. (And we don't let him.)  We've done a lot less art projects and sitting to learning work lately but occasionally he asks to play school and we work on his 'flashcard puzzles' while he plays school.

He's becoming quite the little man at the basketball games these days. Earlier this week he even went to the concession stand and ordered and paid for his snack ALL BY HIMSELF. I stood on the other side of the lunchroom and watched him and it kinda broke my heart a little bit that he didn't look back even once. :(

He's mostly set to entertain himself for games. He has a few bleacher buddies he likes to play with and he does pretty good staying entertained with his bag of toys and occasionally the iPad. If those fail, he's super content to organize the med-kit for daddy and help the managers in the training room. He's a huge help to them, I'm sure. ;) He talks about the high school kids all the time and the other day he was looking at the pictures on the service wall and was telling me who some of them were and how much he likes them. So fun to see! He's also big into playing 'up high, down low' with them. ;)

Speaking of… that's his favorite trick these days. Anyone that will give him time gets the 'up high, on the side, on the other side, down low' pulled on them. If you happen to get the down low too fast for him, be prepared for the game to never end. It's also his favorite joke…. 'Knock knock, (who's there?) Up high…. " He thinks he's pretty hilarious.  I do too. ;)

Every morning he wakes up and needs squeezy hugs and kisses from mommy (and then the same for sister). Some mornings he wakes up and just starts listing all the people he loves. It's pretty cute.

He always asks to hide with [sister] and climbs under the blanket with her. He starts whispering secrets to her and doesn't want mommy and daddy to interrupt. (I'm not sure this is a fave thing or not… maybe I should be scared of what he's telling her!) ;)

He builds random things out of random things and tells us he's going to be an engineer (we don't' even know where he got the word engineer but we're impressed with his work).

I love how he makes up his own words… Two of my faves: He enjoys 'nakeyin' around and he likes to play in the 'picturin' room.

He's super sweet and loving and always gives back rubs, hugs, kisses and random 'I love yous.'

I really couldn't ask for a sweeter three year old. We're so blessed!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

ramblings about a baby bump

We're having a heat wave (if you consider 20s a heat wave), so instead of rushing into the house as fast as we could (the normal these days) after church, we snapped a quick belly pic. Even though my feet (and legs) were killing me after yesterday's Take Heart sessions, I wore cute shoes. I knew I'd be working in the nursery and could take them off for most of the morning. I didn't end up in the baby room. My toes were numb by the time we got home. (But the shoes were cute, no?)

Twenty nine (ish) weeks (thirty if you're into rounding). I still catch myself saying twenty weeks. But whose counting? (Or rather who has enough blood flow to their brain to keep track? Not me.)

I still stand by my baby poll vote of 10 weeks from today.

No vote on her size from me. I passed the glucose test by one point and they are keeping an eye on things so she doesn't get too big. My vote for labor is another easy labor (like B's) with about 2 hours LESS of pushing. That's not too ambitious is it?

I hear mixed reviews about the size of my belly these days. Honestly, it really depends on the way she's laying on any given day. Lately she's been into folding herself up into a ball and hanging out on one side of the belly. It's the weirdest feeling and looks quite odd.

She's busy growing. Still not head down but she's been thinking about it. She's in the rolling like crazy feels like an alien is in there stage. B gets a huge kick out of (get it?) feeling her kicks. She's much more of a mover and kicker (and boxer) than B ever was but she gets the hiccups less than he did. (I swear he had them at least five times a day. She's only had them once that I've noticed so far.) I think she'll have long little legs according to the stretches she does that make it look like her foot is going to literally tear through my belly and pop out the skin.

Big brother has been asking all kinds of questions about her lately. About what she will be like and look like. He says he would like for her to be brown like his friend. He says he really just wants a brown sister. We told him maybe some day via adoption but that sister in mommy's belly is probably going to look more like him or mommy or daddy. He's still praying for a brown sister.

He proudly tells everyone he meets that he has a little baby sister and he's so excited to be a big brother. I hope the enthusiasm sticks when she arrives. He says babies don't cry at our house. I hope he isn't too disappointed there. ;)

He wants to share everything with her. One of my co-teachers from Ames gave him a baby blanket with matching burp cloths when he was a baby. I pulled the burp cloths out last week and he insist this one is his baby sister's blankie (because it's just her size) and he loves that they match. He is looking for more ways to match her.

I realized we hadn't told him sister's middle name yet. When I told him he said, "OVEN!? That's not a very good name!" (For the record- her middle name isn't oven.)

I worked all day yesterday. When I finished he asked me to lay with him a bit before nap time. I said, "Oh did you miss mommy?" He said, "No, I just really missed my sister. I want her to stay and take a nap with me. Just her." I had to explain to him how she can't leave my body just yet. He didn't see why not.

We've made more progress in the nursery. The biggest projects left are the gallery wall and the closet door. We ended up just finding a rod in our basement to use for the closet so we didn't have to buy a closet system for her. We stuck a few storage bins in and I think it's good to go for awhile. I think the big things left on the list are a monitor, clothes and diapers. I'd like to make her a homemade quilt but since I still haven't finished B's yet I'm guessing that may not happen.

I can't make a complete sentence these days so I can't promise any of the above post makes any sense. In the last 24 hours alone I couldn't figure out how to spell fifth or very. (I wish I were kidding.) Thank God for spell check.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

all things baby

At some point over the last few weeks, it finally clicked with us that we are going to be bringing a little baby into this house. Soon.*

We started looking through B's baby book with him and talking about what he was like as a baby and what baby sister might be like. We talked about how she might cry but he says babies don't cry in our house. ;) We looked at how tiny he was and I can hardly remember it. Those early days are such a blur. They go by so fast (but feel so long at the time). I'm racking my brain for anything and everything I've probably forgotten since his baby days and not sure we're ready for little sister just yet. :)

What I (vaguely) remember:

Sleep. B was an awesome sleeper but even so, baby still has to get up to eat. R was the dad of the year and helped a TON with the overnight shifts but it wears on everyone. I'm grouchy without sleep so we'll have to figure out how to make it through the short on sleep period again.

Breastfeeding. It's hard. B was nearly 15 months old when he (finally) weaned and I remember thinking at one point that it was so much easier to breastfeed than to pack bottles and formula (and everything else) just to leave the house. Eventually I felt like a pro at nursing and could do it anytime, anywhere. But don't let that fool you. Those early days were HARD. His latch was awful. I was back to work (way too early) and we needed him to take a bottle but didn't want him to get nipple confusion. He did. It was a (frustrating, hard, exhausting) process but it was worth it. We had to use the shield and we had to enlist lots of help. I remember being ready to give up (more than once) but since the pump was the one thing we bought I wanted to get my monies worth out of it. I decided if I could just deal with the frustrating part for three months we would get our monies worth (in the price of the pump vs. price of formula) and then I would give myself permission to quit. Three months rolled on by without me thinking about it again. We eventually (before that three month mark) got the hang of it and even decided it was easy at one point. It was so hard but so worth it. I'm sure having a three year old to take care of simultaneously will add it's own set of issues to the breastfeeding process but I hope to stick it through this time as well. (Remind me of that when I say I'm ready to give up, okay?)

Diapers. Lots of diapers. B was a laid back baby and wet diapers never really bothered him. We were lucky and he never (okay, super rarely) got diaper rash. So at some point (I can't remember when) we got it down to four diapers a day. A new one in the morning, before nap, after nap, and bedtime. But the other day I mentioned to R that newborns go through 16 diapers a day (I think?) and he was shocked. I started thinking maybe I was wrong (am I?). But I still think it's a lot more than 4. Right? We talked about starting to stock up on diapers now before I'm on a pay freeze (oh the joys of being self employed) but we really have no idea how many we might need. I feel like we used a lot of size one and size three. But maybe not? As it turns out I don't remember much about the diapering phase. ;)

Laundry. B never spit up. Rarely peed out his diaper (and only due to the way the diaper was put on). And only had two blow outs (that I remember anyway). This will for sure seal my mom of the year award but we may have only changed his sleeper once every couple (or few if I'm being completely honest) days. We never had to change his sheets (up until the great diaper escape phase of twenty thirteen). He didn't add much to the laundry pile in those early days. But I know we have friends with babies that go through 3-5 outfits A DAY. So I'm trying to brace myself for the possibility that an extra body will make a dent in our laundry routine (or lack of).

Schedules. There were days I refused to leave the house so B could sleep. We were mostly flexible (and still are) with when he gets his sleep but if he's missed out on it too much we lock ourselves in and sleep, sleep, sleep (we still do that with him)! These days he can play catch up on sleep pretty quick so usually after a day of good sleep we can throw the schedule out the window again but in those early days we would lock ourselves in a few days at a time to get back on track. Anticipate me being a flake with no good excuse (except in the name of sleep). ;)

Stages. Foods, sippy cups, milestone activities, and more oh my. Will I remember these this time around?

Attachment. I can't remember being away from him very many times before his first birthday. He had a couple overnight stays with grandmas but otherwise he was with us. I made my picture schedule around R's schedule and one of us was almost always with him (mostly me). I know two people whose babies have died from SIDS and both happened at daycare. I read somewhere SIDS happens more often in the care of someone that is not the primary caregiver (and doesn't necessarily know or follow all the crib and bedding rules). Looking back, I probably should have just taken the time to make sure a sitter did know and follow the rules but apparently my newborn mom fogged brain couldn't come up with that and just thought it was easier to do it myself. ;) I am not sure what we'll do this time around.

Momness. I puffed up like crazy AFTER B was born. I thought I was huge and swollen walking into the hospital (and I was) but it got even worse after he was born. At the end of my pregnancy with B I couldn't wear my own shoes and borrowed my moms. After he was born, I couldn't even fit into those anymore. (I left the hospital wearing slippers.) I'm not sure how long this lasted but I'm a giant puff monster in the pictures for quite awhile! I also remember trying on pre-pregnancy jeans every once in awhile. I don't think I'll even put myself through that this time. ;) And the recovery. It was rougher than I expected or anticipated. I was sore. For days. No… weeks. When I did finally feel like working out again the weight started coming off too fast (which isn't good for breastfeeding) so I had to stop. It was quite the balancing act for awhile. I was hungry. All the time. Nursing burns a lot of calories and they needed to be replaced somehow! (Honestly our increase in food bill during that time may have been about the same cost of formula…) ;) I also struggled a lot with who I was, who my friends were, etc. I feel like that transition won't be as rough this time (because hey, I'm mom) but I still want to remember it's possible for relationships to change during life transitions and that's okay.

Cheeks. And baby smiles. And cuddles and snuggles. This is the baby goodness I remember the most. This is the baby goodness that makes the sleepless nights and crabby mornings oh so worth it.

Oh baby girl, we're getting excited to meet you soon!

*I'm not naive. I know there's always something that can go wrong and there's never the guarantee of bringing home baby. That said, once we hit the 90%-95% survivability rate, I stopped worrying (as much) about an early labor and delivery and started to really think about bringing home baby. But that's a whole other blog post. ;)

Friday, December 26, 2014

a's nursery

I've been posting a few nursery update pictures on instagram and have gotten a few questions already. I love sharing so here's my obligatory (but because I really want to) nursery post!

(It's an Instagram iPhone pic so the quality is terrible and gets worse when emailed from my phone. It was shot in pano mode so while it looks like B has two heads, it's actually just one that he was moving around while I was shooting.) ;) 

If you checked out B's nursery tour, this probably looks sort of familiar to you. Details about the chair, crib and dresser can all be found over on his post.

Other details:

Paint: Walls: Elegant White (dutch boy). Green dresser:  Valspar Celtic. Green stripe: I used the paint from the dresser and added some white from the walls to tone it down. It ended up being close to Valspar Bahama (though I was going for more of a Valspar Pistachio.. it of course dried darker than I planned).

Flooring: Nebraska Furniture Mart

Crib sheet: Pottery Barn Kids (Did you know you can get these on sale for $9? That's cheaper than Walmart!)

Crib skirt: Target

Curtains: Amazon

Moroccan pouf: Amazon

Night stand: Made by R

Mobile: Amazon

Rug: Amazon (This isn't actually in the pic above yet but should be here this week… it's the WHITE one but not finding it on there right now.)

Knobs on dresser: Amazon (I can't recommend these. We paid $8 for the set so they were super cheap.. which should have been our first clue. They will likely all need to be glued back together as the glass ball comes off the actual knob part very easy. Bummer.) These are adorable but no way I am spending that much for knobs.

Afghan: grandma's

(Can you tell we use Amazon prime? We also got some Amazon gift cards for Christmas. Kind of the perfect gift card for us.) :)  Since we're so Amazon savvy I feel like I need to share this tip with you… start an Amazon cart and ask them to notify you of price drops. It's a guaranteed way to get everything on sale (if you're not in a hurry to get it). And once you order, it arrives in two days so if you are in a hurry, it's quick shipping! We are kind of big fans of their diaper and pantry orders too (on sale of course). 

I'll add details and pictures as we continue to work on it. We've been taking full advantage of R being home from school (and basketball) and he's gotten most of his work done in there already. My goal is to finish some DIY projects for the walls before I hit the exhausted stage again. I've had two weeks of feeling pretty good and we've been super productive during those weeks! (I felt like we had to be since I was miserable the first 25+ weeks.) That said, our house is still a disaster so maybe we haven't been that productive. ;)

To do list:

-Gallery wall/other diy art & pics
-Cover pillow and make monogram
-Find bird hooks for above chest (I saw the cutest ones at junk jubilee and of course am kicking myself for not buying them… I like this one but would spray paint it and no way would I pay that much…. this is an option too.. but I'm still looking)
-Possibly build a storage bench like B's in place of chest (I really wanted to use his old chest in there but the wood is almost identical to the floor so it is almost camouflaged. (Yes, I know I'm the queen of painting anything that doesn't move but I can't bring myself to paint his old chest.. I know I would regret it someday.) The size and function aren't as great as B's either so a matching bench to his would be nice. Maybe.
-Name banner
-Have B paint sticks
-Paint book racks
-Find a closet solution (we added one to the wish list here but we've already hit the nursery budget so looking for a cheaper solution- any ideas?)
-Crate on wheels or African knitting basket for storage
-And here's the bird on twigs mobile I would really love to DIY in fabrics that match her room but know I probably wont. Seriously, how cute though?!
-And whatever else I'm forgetting right now. I'm sure it's something. Or lots of somethings. ;) I THINK all we really have left that we need is to figure out the monitor situation (our old one just started acting crazy so while we had planned to just add a camera to what we had, we're thinking we may need to get something new), a closet solution, diapers and clothes. I'm sure there are lots of baby necessities I'm forgetting all about so please remind me. :)

To be continued….

Christmas '14

We're in the 'long winter's nap' portion of Christmas '14 and there was so much goodness this year I had to get to the blog before I forgot.

Three is the most magical age for Christmas and B has been saying all day (and last night), "This was the best Christmas ever!" Seeing Christmas through his eyes really is the best Christmas ever!

Highlights from our best Christmas ever….

Visiting Santa at Bass pro. B was mesmerized by the Christmas set up there. He froze when he saw Santa but managed to ask for 'Planes Fire & Rescue' movie. Once we explored the store, he had added several other wishes to the list (an ice fishing tent and four wheeler topped the list).

Working the clothes pantry. Our local clothing pantry does the wishing tree for local families and we were blessed to get to help out with it several days. For the first year, B really got the concept of meeting the needs of others and really got it when we went shopping for our wishing tree family. It was a huge improvement from even packing shoe boxes the month before. Having him actually put in the work before the shopping gave him a lot better idea of what was going on. He will randomly talk about it and say the sweetest things. His little (huge) heart just melts me every time.

Decorating gingerbread house and cookies. We had never done a gingerbread house but B kept asking for one this year so we (finally) got one. He was very meticulous in his decorating. Only putting on candy that made sense (donut holes for 'bushes,' a gumdrop for a 'ding bell,' green candy for 'grass,' etc.) and eating the rest. He definitely did more eating than decorating. I finally asked if he wanted to decorate it some more and he said, "Let's just eat it instead!" It wasn't long before even the roof was being eaten.  When it was time for the cookies, I took the advice of my friend Angie and bought the pre made/prerolled gingerbread cookie dough from Hy-Vee. Genius. Easiest cookie making ever (we used the leftover gingerbread house frosting). B made a couple gingerbread men then asked if he could make some angels instead so we ended up with mostly angels. Perfection.

Caroling. Confession: I missed out on it this year. In the past we've taken our niece and nephew and made goodie bags to go along with the caroling but we didn't get to that this year. We were in charge of planning this month's cg social so we planned on caroling at the nursing home followed by soup/dinner at our house. When it was time to leave, R admitted he had no idea how to finish the soup so he ended up taking B caroling and I stayed home to finish the soup. I heard B was adorable though. Of course. ;)

Tree Farm. It was our first visit to the tree farm and our first real tree. B is SO proud of his little tree he picked out and decorated himself. He loves showing it to everyone. It is definitely a tradition we'll add to the to do list.

North Pole Express. Or Polar Express? I'm not sure of the name anymore.. but we watched the movie then rode the train with B's cousins. He was SO excited about it. The boys looked adorable in their matching jammies and the dinner beforehand was delicious but B was a little disappointed he didn't actually get to get out and play at the North Pole. The movie had set his expectations up pretty high so we would have been better not to watch it. :) I thought it was great though because he was bummed and tired so he sat in my lap and snuggled the whole way back to the train station. I'll take all the snuggles I can get so that was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Since then, he talks about the train ride all the time so I think he really did love it, even if he was sad he didn't get to hang with Santa more.

Brunch with Santa. Our local orchard does all kinds of fun stuff during the Christmas season. We spent one Saturday morning there eating pancakes with Santa, taking a carriage ride through the farm, and visiting with Santa. B was thrilled to get to hang with Santa for a bit since the other two times he got to see him, Santa was pretty busy. We spent another morning there making Christmas ornaments with friends and I spent an evening there with mommy friends making our own Christmas crafts and eating dinner. So much fun stuff so close by. Definitely a must do if you're in the area.

Advent countdown. We joined our friends at the library and made the cutest advent tubes to hang up (we used last year's Advent stick to hang them from). We read 'Advent for the very young' and B totally gets it. He would wake up most mornings the month of December asking to 'talk about Jesus.' It really encouraged him to pray more too (and prayers other than 'thank you for my toys'). He can (mostly) accurately retell the story of Jesus' birth and loves finding all the different nativity scenes (aka 'baby Jesus barns' at everyone's homes.

Christmas Eve Candlelight. This didn't go as great as I had pictured in my mind but one sweet moment that I don't want to forget… when the candles were handed out and the kids lined up along the wall together, it got real quiet as they were getting ready to begin and B started (not so quietly) singing, "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. I whispered to him that it was quiet time and he said, "but we gotta blow out Jesus' birthday candles first!"

Waterpark Christmas. Again, not exactly as we pictured (a cancelled flight for R's sister changed some plans and we ended up with an impromptu- but fun- middle of the night airport run) but still super fun. B LOVES the water park and is a big fan of the pirate ship. He's also a big fan of his cousins and family so he of course had an all around blast. I love seeing him hang out with his cousin B (they are just months apart in age), they act like little old men together. One of my favorite quotes from eavesdropping on them was when B said to his cousin, "It's okay [BP], I like wearing diapers too." The stuff they say cracks me up. And if you follow us on instagram, you may have seen our lovely family picture from the night. It was clearly a wear your best pajamas party. I think R succeeded at that. B was spoiled with gifts at all Christmases this year and he got a super cool set of Magformers from grandma this night. If your kids (or you for that matter) don't have them, you should definitely look into them. Pretty sure these span the ages more than legos. So fun for the littles and big kids!

Christmas Eve at grandmas. Again, B loves playing with cousins so he had a blast. My favorite moments were watching him with his baby cousin Clara. He is a big fan of hers and is so sweet and gentle with her. He talks about her all the time and talks about how she and [sister] will be such good friends. The fact that he thinks ahead to stuff like that is so awesome. I think he'll be an awesome big brother. He got a super cool Plasma car at this Christmas but his favorite gift was nutcrackers. He opened the box and screamed, "NUTCRACKERS!!!!" They were the first 'toy' he went to this morning when we woke up and he talks about them all the time. (The story behind him getting them is that every time we've been to Target this winter, he asks to stop and see the nutcrackers. He plays with every single one of them each time we visit the store and asked for one every visit but never got one. He was so excited to get some of his own.)

Christmas day. I feel like this needs it's own blog post. The short story is he slept in late (yay) so I had time to make peppermint waffles (with whip cream and red/green gummy bears). When he woke up, I snuck into his room and said, "Merry Christmas, buddy." He said, "What?!?" He had no clue it was Christmas morning. He jumped out of bed and looked out the window and said, "It is! It snowed! It did! It is Christmas! Santa came!" (We aren't sure why he associates snow with Christmas but he does.) We headed out to the living room where he saw his new race car waiting for him and the look on his face was priceless. He was SO excited about it. He decided it was okay that Santa came to his house and was even impressed that Santa ate all his cookies (though the truth is that Dakota ate them instead). After soaking up the new car smell, we encouraged him to open his gifts. He gets one Santa gift, three gifts from mom and dad, and a stocking. He opened his three gifts and was SO excited and thankful for each one. He got 'Planes Fire & Rescue' and said, "It's just what I always wanted!!!" He got Frank the combine and a tractor for tipping (from the movie Cars) and was completely obsessed with them. He literally carried them around ALL Christmas day. He also got a Pigeon matching game. I wanted to start getting him some games or things he can do where he has to follow rules so this was a good start. (We played today and he has a little ways to go before mastering the rule following part.) ;) He dug through his stocking and LOVED everything in it. His favorites were a 'lazer gun,' a Chicago Cubs nutcracker ornament, super hero socks, a lego shirt & a flashlight (don't tell but that may have been re-gifted from one of R's students)… He's been playing with or wearing everything on that list today and keeps saying, "Oh mom thank you for…. (fill in the blank)." He was super excited for mommy and daddy to open their stockings. (He did the shopping this year and did an awesome job.) Then we had him open [sister's] stocking for her. He picked out her goodies at the store as well and 'showed' her each one as he told her about them (socks, a swaddling blanket, a toy car, booties & a teddy bear). He was very excited when I told her she loved everything he got for her. After presents, we ate breakfast (those peppermint waffles) and got ready for grandma's where we spent most of the day. On the car ride there, he was asking to see Jesus again (this started after we told him baby Avery went to live with Jesus) and closed his eyes real tight as he prayed. That will never get old to me. We had a nice laid back day at grandma's then headed home for naps before picking up from Christmas. It was almost bedtime before he had a chance to drive his race car so we pushed bedtime back and went for a late night cruise. B drove his car up and down the street while R & I walked behind (and Dakota too). It was the perfect end of Christmas day activity. At bedtime, he laid in bed and told Daddy, "This was the best Christmas ever!!" And since waking this morning, he's been saying it ever since.

We agree buddy, we agree.

I hope you and your family had a very blessed Christmas too.

We have so much to be thankful for.

(Pictures to come once I get them off the camera but you can check out some of the fun on instgram.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

the afghan

I study the colors of the afghan that for so many years covered the back of her chair. When I was younger, she let me snuggle up in the afghan on special occasion. As I grew, the afghan stayed in its safe place, protecting it from more wear and tear on its already intricately and carefully pieced together parts. As her body started to fail her, she asked me to wrap it around her. I gingerly did so in bittersweet servanthood. She was known for her beautiful quilting but for me, the old and worn afghan holds more memories. 
The colors would look lovely in my daughter's room, I decide. The first (and only) nursery decision to date. I think about raising a daughter and all the time she spent raising me. The secrets we shared and the many, many hours she spent teaching me about life. Growing up, it's likely I spent more time with her than any other single person. She very likely had the biggest influence on me. I can attribute much of me to her. 
My need for memory keeping included. 
One of our secrets was the hundred dollar bills she hid behind my pictures in the photo album she kept by her chair. She said I would be the one to find them as I was spent the most time going through old photos with her over and over again. We worked on family albums together. Meticulously sorting and labeling pictures and joyfully thumbing through the pages of our work. 
I thumb through those same pages today. Thankful for the days we shared but longing for just one more. I have so many questions, especially as I think about becoming a mom to a daughter. I wonder what she would think of all this mess. I feel fear and sadness creep in as the memories start to fade. And then I see her. And then the afghan. In picture after picture draped over chairs and couches, some of which I don't recognize. The earliest of the pictures (as far as I can tell) is nearly half a century old. If this well loved afghan can stand the test of time, surely grandma's lessons will. 

The above post was written several weeks back in the middle of the night. I couldn't sleep and was thumbing through those old albums on our closet floor thinking about grandma. Since then, we've chosen a name for our little girl- a nod towards grandma, and this week we made progress on her room where we hope to incorporate the meaning behind her name…. and the afghan.

(The above pic was taken at night with the iPhone… I'll get in there with the real camera during the daytime soon. Maybe.) ;)


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