Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 14 of 2014 :)

It's time for one of my favorite yearly traditions.  I sit down with my favorite drink (lately - orange juice), and listen to my favorite music (lately - this), and pick out my favorite photos from the year.

This year left me slightly disappointed.  It's been quite the year, folks.  Moving into a new house, an exhausting first trimester with an almost-kindergartener pulling me in every direction, and lots of other things in between.  

Which means that my camera spent most of the year in it's cozy bag.  Poor camera.  

But, I was able to find 14 pictures from 2014 that made me feel all the feels when I skimmed through them.  So here they are, in chronological order, with my thoughts on each one :) Some even have a blog post linked to the photo, if your coffee is extra hot and you're looking for something to do :)

A date night with my favorite, favorite person in the whole wide world.

Let's do more of these, mmmkay? Spending time with you is my favorite pastime.

Can I say 'favorite' any more than I already have?  You're my favorite.

A little boy, getting acquainted with his new lake, just down the road from his new house.  

Post Link HERE :)
Little did we know that all summer long, he would beg and plead for us to walk him to this special, quiet spot.  He'd even make a trip by himself...because he's so sneaky like that.

(Thankfully, he was dragging a garden hoe behind him, and we happened to have the windows open that day - otherwise, we would have never even known that he was running down the road. Parents of the year!)

Mommy's little helper.

The set up in our kitchen is perfect for a little boy who always likes to be in on the action.  Until the mixer comes out.  Then he's happy being anywhere but the kitchen.  I love this little smile - like he thinks he's really getting away with something stinkerish.

A little boy's (and proud dad's) first baseball game.

Post Link HERE :)
It was a season of trying new things - and Carter loved every second.  Baseball is definitely his sport - he loves watching it (and even asks for it now, in December), but playing it brought his love to a whole different level.

Goodbye '5' - Hello '6'!

Post Link HERE :)

Possibly one of my favorite Carter photos of all time.  I think you can see why.

Some exciting news from the Big Brother!

Post Link HERE :)
He has no idea of what's coming, does he?  But he's awfully cute, anyway.  We took these pictures quick before heading to a church event, and it was next to impossible to keep our lips zipped about the secret photos that we had just taken.

Which makes me think: one of the most exciting parts of the first trimester?  Having a super special, super big, super fun secret that only you and your 'favorite person in the whole world' know.

Happy little vacationing family.

Post Link HERE :)
Taken just after sharing the baby news with Jake's family in Saint Germain.  Carter's genuine, silly smile just knocks my socks off.

Summer Boating - Carter's favorite pastime.

Look at that cheesy grin.  He's a summer boy, for sure.

Last day before Kindergarten. Sniff.

Post Link HERE :)
Obviously, Carter helped himself to pretzels this day.  Which is part of what I love about this picture. It celebrates his growing independence.  He was able to get his own bowl, find the pretzels, pour them into his bowl which was waiting for him on the couch, and then put the pretzels away.  All while mom was in the bathroom :)

Happy 30th Birthday :)

Post Link HERE :)
My twenties were good and full and nearly perfect.  What will my thirties hold?

It's a girl!

Post Link HERE :)
Horrible picture - perfect memory.  Loved sharing this moment with you, Jaker.

A nice shot from our messy, complicated, life-filled Christmas Tree Day.

Post Link HERE :)
It wasn't a perfect day - and actually, most days aren't perfect.  But we're learning, right?

Family photo snuggles :)

I'm no dummy - I know that a time is coming soon when this little boy will be a big boy.  Snuggles like this will become few and far-between, until one day, when I suddenly say "I can't remember the last time I actually held Carter...".

So for now, I pick him up whenever I can.  I'm taking full advantage.

Carter's special visitor :)

Post Link HERE :)
"Hiiiii, Santa! Ho, ho, ho - baaaary kikiss!"


It's fun to think about what next year's photos might look like.  Hopefully my camera will spend less time tucked away this year, and more time capturing all the good stuff that lies ahead.

If you'd like to see my 'Favorite Photo' Posts from past years, click the links below:


Happy New Year!

One Thing I Know For Sure: Good stuff behind, better stuff ahead!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

{Merry Christmas}

Merry Christmas, sweet reader.  

This is Christmas.

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called 
Wonderful counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

John 1-9-14

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

2 Corinthians 9:15

Truly He taught us to love one another - 
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother - 
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we - 
Let all within us praise His holy name!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

One Thing I Know For Sure: "For God so loved the world..."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hello, Third Trimester!

We made it two-thirds of the way.  Which kind of sounds like I didn't expect to make it two-thirds of the way.  Which isn't the case.  But for someone who has wanted to have a baby for as long as I can remember, it's just downright weird to think that this is actually happening.  It's just...wild.

I feel little lady's hiccups at least once every other day.  Her kicks are getting stronger, although not painful.  Her head is down and she's in position for this 'birth' thing that her mama keeps telling her about. I've still only gained 8 pounds - but now that I'm in my third trimester, that number should spike up between now and D-Day! My belly is changing shape - although I still just think it looks like I'm extra chubby.  Especially with my winter coat on.  I'm sure people think I'm just a large lady who needs to use the bathroom (thanks to the obvious waddle, which is worse when I'm tired out) :)
19 Weeks (left) & 28 Weeks (right)
Our little lady is quite the sass, though.  She knows when her daddy puts his hand on her, and she immediately stops kicking.  Stinker.

We're all registered for our prenatal classes.  
The crib was set up this weekend.
I've got my nose in several 'how to push out a baby' books.
We've got our name picked out.  I think.  It starts with an - ha...just kidding! Not telling :)

You guys - we're having a baby.

We even had two whole days of practice as a family of four.  Granted, it wasn't our baby.  And she was a happy 9 month old instead of a screaming newborn.  But we were so curious to see how the soon-to-be Big Brother would do with a little lady in the house.

Working on setting up Baby Sister's crib - both kiddos were very 'helpful' :)
We saw so many good things.  I won't say that Carter loved her, but he absolutely tolerated her - and by the end of the second day, I'm pretty sure she was growing on him.  He pretended to feed her his ice cream after dinner from across the table....which is kind of like 'love', in Carter's world.  

Let's just forget about the fact that the next day when he saw her in church with her mommy & daddy, he made sure to tell us "No baby" :)

We found it so interesting that when little lady fussed, Carter went right to his room and shut the door.  He didn't want to hear it.  He definitely didn't like it.  At first, this made me sad.  It made me wonder what a screaming baby meant in his former, orphanage life.  It obviously triggered something in him, and he just wanted to get away.

The more I thought about it, though, I realized that this is probably a very good thing for Carter to understand.  He has an 'out'.  If it's just too much for him, there's nothing wrong with him sneaking off to his room for some quiet play time.  In fact, I can't really think of a better response for him to have.  He understands his limits, and he knows that he has a safe and quiet place to go when he needs a break.  

All good stuff.  

When 'nice baby' (as Carter calls her, when he's not saying 'no baby') left, I think Jake and I both felt relief.  It's going to be fine.  It will take some adjusting, for sure.  But just like we got into our groove when Carter came to our family, we'll get into our groove when Little Sister comes, too.

We talked about it the next day, and I admitted that before 'nice baby' came, I was a little nervous about what life would look like in 3 months.  Jake and I work well together.  We are in-sync 98% of the time.  We know each other - we help each other - we affirm each other.  And we also know our little guy.  We understand him and his quirks.  We can see what he needs before he needs it.  

What I'm saying is that we're like a well-oiled machine.  And now the well-oiled machine that we've worked so hard to perfect is being dismantled and will need to be rebuilt.  

That's a little daunting.

But after this weekend, we realized that it will be okay.  We're in this together.  And we'll just rock it. 

One Thing I Know For Sure: 28 weeks down, 12ish more to go!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Special Visitor :)

Last week, Carter had a special visitor show up at his house.  We had been debating if this was the year.  Even though Carter loves the idea of Santa, would he flip his lid when Santa actually rings his doorbell?  Would we ruin him forever?  Or is he the big boy kindergartener that we think he is?

Shortly before bed, the doorbell rang.  Carter knew.


We'll never know how he knew, but he did.

Let me start by saying that in my family, Santa is a THING (yes, all caps).  Santa has been visiting our family Christmas gatherings since I was itty-bitty.

In fact, I found the following photos of myself and Jolly Old Saint Nick in the basement just now.  I searched for about 3.7 seconds.  If I had looked longer, I could have found at least 12 more pictures from other years.

Santa loves our family that much.

We are a very well-behaved family, therefore, we know Santa on a personal level.


We love Jesus a whole lot, we read the Christmas story every year as a big family, and we know that HE is the real reason we celebrate.  But still, there's Santa.  There's always been Santa.

Since becoming parents, Jake and I have been torn.  We never really thought we'd be Santa people.  Because how does Jesus compete with someone who delivers fun presents and rides a sleigh driven by reindeer?  How can we ever find the balance between this little Santa thing, and the Savior of the world?

And then.

And then we had a little boy whose eyes light up every time he sees Santa in a book or on a show.  And we remember our wide-eyed wonder at this happy, kind, jolly man and how he helped to make our childhoods so very special.

So we threw our hands up and decided that it's okay.  We emphasize Jesus and the nativity.  Because that's what it's really about.

But this Santa guy is special, too.

If our kids can just learn love from our Christmas traditions, then I'd say we did it right.  What's love?  It's giving without expecting anything in return.

I'd say Jesus and Santa both have that figured out.

Maybe 20 years from now, we'll wish we had done things differently.  Or maybe we'll look back on all these special, treasured memories and be so grateful for each one - which all happen to reflect our own childhood Christmas wonder.

So for now - we'll thank the Lord for his indescribable gift of his one and only Son.

And we'll throw in a 'Ho, ho, ho' every now and then.  Because this is the way we're choosing.  We're doing it our way.  And stop shaking your head at me, because we don't have to agree on everything.


The visit was a smashing success - Carter loved his stuffed elephant (elephants - his latest obsession), colors for his bath, and activity/coloring desk (coloring - his other new obsession).

But most of all, Carter loved Santa.  And Carter's mommy and daddy loved Santa, too.

As Carter would say "HO, HO, HOOO - baaaaaary kik-kis!"

One Thing I Know For Sure: So grateful Santa's knee held out for a quick visit :) Love you, Santa!

Monday, December 01, 2014

It's That Time!

I've secretly been listening to Christmas music for several weeks while Jake has been at work.  I've always prided myself on waiting until after Thanksgiving.  This year, I just couldn't wait.  Maybe it's the new life in my belly, or the new house, or the wide-eyed kindergartener who is so full of wonder.

No matter - there was no waiting, this year!

The day after Thanksgiving, we bundled up and headed out to cut down our Christmas tree.  Possibly my favorite tradition of the whole year.

It was cold.  Dang cold.  But it's Wisconsin, after all.  So we've just learned to suck it up and deal with it.

We saw a tree we liked almost right away, but had to walk around for 45 minutes to make sure there wasn't something better.

There wasn't.

It was cold.  My body wasn't prepared for all this walking in boots and snow and snow pants.  Carter's mittens were wet from dragging them in the snow.

This special tradition was turning into a crapstorm.

We went back to the first tree we saw, and guess what we did?!  We cut it down.  Forty five minutes of senseless walking in the cold.  But, memories!  And, traditions!  At this point, we didn't really care.

"Let's just get the heck out of here. Mmmkay?"

So, Jake got down on the snowy ground and started sawing.  And sawing.  And sawing.  Nothing was happening.

More sawing.  Some tree-pushing.  More sawing.  And then - 'snap'.

Our saw broke.  Thankfully the family nearby had a saws-all.  It saws-all.  Saws-all to the rescue.

We finally got the tree loaded on to the top of the car.  (You know, the one we could have cut down after five minutes of looking around).  We tied it down good and tight.  Off we went, home! 

And then, a mile down the road, we realized it wasn't really tied down all that tight.  It was sliding off our car.  We tried to laugh, but it was hard.  So we pulled over, and tried to fix it.

Carter is yelling from the back "Nooo! No! Home! Carter's house!".  He didn't like that we were stopped - he didn't care that the tree was slipping and sliding and would soon be in the middle of the road.  

We got it fixed, only to stop again a mile or two later.  Eventually we made it home, and just as we pulled into the driveway - laughter.  It's okay.  It's just - life.  Life is messy and funny and sometimes hard.  

But we're learning.  Actually, I suspect we'll spend our whole lives learning.  


That night, as the tree defrosted and dripped off in the garage, we did the only thing you really can do after such a messy day.

We ate chips.  And salsa.  And lots of rice.  And fajitas.  And drank coke (or chocolate milk, if you're in kindergarten). 

And we laughed.  We laughed so much.  


The tree is up, and even though the cutting down part was messy - the putting up part was perfect.  

Our sweet boy was mystified by the lights and was so eager to help.  After he went to bed for the night, Jake and I pulled out all the ornaments and got to work.

We cried a little bit.  Because some ornaments can't be unwrapped without shedding a few tears.

Like this one.

Confused? Click HERE. 
And some remind us of people who aren't here anymore, and maybe we are still learning lessons from those people.

Others remind us of pets who aren't here any more, and maybe their floppy lips and perky ears left great big holes in our hearts.

A few ornaments fill us up with all good feelings and each time we look at them we can't help but rejoice and be thankful.

So it's Christmas.  And this is where we are.  Remembering, rejoicing, and learning.

Always learning.

Merry Christmas, friend.

One Thing I Know For Sure: It's the most wonderful time of the year :)
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