Friday, January 30, 2015

40 years and counting

Nate's parents celebrated 40 years in December.  For their anniversary they wanted a dinner with just the adults and a picture opportunity with the whole family, which we turned into a sledding day. 
 
How cute are these cousins...OH MY.  I love this bunch of kiddos.
 

It ended up being the perfect Minnesota winter day, full of a sunshine, a beautiful walk and some awesome sledding runs.

 
The kids had such a blast, as they always do, with the cousins.


And Grandma and Grandpa ate it up.  They have so much fun with the kids....


...and boy do the kids adore them.

 
Dan and Shelley are an amazing couple.  They have taught us so much about marriage and parenting through their own example.  As adults it has been so fun to get to know them on a new level.  They are some of our biggest encouragers and prayer supporters.  Happy Anniversary.  We love you.
 
 
Some of theirs (and our) wedding verses...

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It doesn't take much

It doesn't take much to make a week, day, morning, or moment special.  Maybe my standards have lowered, or maybe I've just learned to appreciate the small things.  But one of the things I enjoy most is my morning coffee. 

My life was  revolutionized when I got an espresso make and milk steamer to make lattes.  MMMmmmmm....  Then, I found this...


Organic Valley's Hazelnut creamer.  AMAZING.  However, the grocery stores around here are really unreliable in keeping it stocked.  Thanks to my sister-in-law and other friends who also love this, we keep each other posted on which store is currently in-stock.  However, like last winter, it recently became unavailable, even at the stores that usually have it.  My sister-in-law did some investigating and found out that since all of the cows whose milk they use are grass-fed, they don't make the frivolous items on their product list in the winter when grass is scarce.  Hazelnut coffee creamer should not be considered frivolous, it should be a necessity, but whatever.

Then, one of my friends who was fed up with dropping in to a store only to be disappointed at its absence, found this. A recipe to make your own.


Consider this my weekly DIY project for the next 20 weeks or until it's stocked again.

I pretty much followed the recipe right form Kitchen Simplicity.  But I made a few modifications.


I ended up roasting the hazelnuts for about 20 minutes (double what the recipe suggested).  I wanted them super aromatic...and they were.


I also did an overflowing 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  I didn't want to shy away from the sweetness (it gets diluted a lot and even more when you use just a splash in your coffee...it's the perfect sweet).  And I added the vanilla while it was on the stove by accident, but it worked out.

And finally, I let the hazelnuts steep in the cream for a little over 2 hours before running the mixture through the cheesecloth.  I wanted to err on the side of too much flavor rather than not enough.

It is magnificent.  The smell while making it had my mouth watering, and when I put it in the fridge to cool overnight, I could hardly wait to wake up (even after a late night with my MOPS girls) and have my coffee.  My friend who found the recipe actually decided to keep the hazelnuts after straining them out and put the in her ice cream.  Oh. My. 

Like I said, when your day consists of lots of poopy diapers, spit up, laundry and putting out all kinds of baby and toddler fires, a delicious cup of coffee, is something to appreciate.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Very.Merry.Crazy

Christmas was very Merry.  And very crazy.  It was non-stop for a few days straight.  It was hard on schedules, sleep, food, and just our regular normal.  But it was lots of fun. 
This was Archie's first Christmas...he slept through most of it.  Griffin gobbled up every minute of it all and Hattie followed whatever Griff was doing.
Christmas Eve we opened a few gifts from Cooper.  A tradition my mom had growing up (presents from our dog on Christmas Eve).  He got the kids new Christmas jammies and each a book.  Griff got a book about Griffin Rock (maybe transformers?).
Hattie got, "Hattie and the Fox."
 



Archie got a book called, "Archie."

Hattie's favorite gift was her first iPhone.  Just kidding.

We got our annual visit from Santa at Grandma and Grandpa's.

Archie didn't know what to think, Griff was excited and Hattie is no where to be found in any of the pictures...absolutely terrified, but that was to be expected.



Santa, where are your eyes??? And how do you grow a beard across your nose? :)
 

This is as close as Hattie would get...
 

And my biceps were definitely feeling it after this one...I got the heavy end of the stick I guess.


We spent the night at my mom and Ian's (Meme and Inan/Ani) and then woke up and flew all around Wayzata for 3 Christmas Mornings.  First at Grandma and Grandpa's.



Though you can't really tell by their happy faces it was Christmas....

Obligatory cousin tree picture also went about as expected...



This is the winner...yikes.


Then we went to Meme and Ani's...
 
 


And finally to Nani and Pa's for Christmas Dinner and to spend the night.  Unfortunately there are no pictures to document...camera was lost in the piles of presents:).  It was a wonderful Christmas, packed full of family but I wouldn't have changed a thing.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Saying Goodbye

One of the greatest blessings in my life as a new mom, as a mom of young kids, has been my connections with other moms in this season of life. 

My high school relationships are strong, and those girls will be my forever friends.  My college friends and I, while sprinkled all over the country, will always stay in touch.  But my friends that I do life with, everyday, are my life.  They keep me sane, they keep me challenged as a wife, friend, mom, daughter.  And I knew none of them 5 years ago.

It is with these moms that I have engaged in Bible studies, listened to speakers on all topics, had tough conversations about marriage, parenting, faith and life, and it is these women who challenge and inspire me to be better.

It is also with these moms that I spend my mornings with in playdates.  The word playdate is a bit of an illusion.  Yes, play happens, yes fighting happens, and yes, we are constantly intervening, fixing owies, and cleaning up explosive messes.  In the midst of a playdate, the moms might get in 7 minutes worth of conversation.  But it's worth it.  Truth be told, I go to playdates for the coffee and pastries.  Lots and lots of pastries.

A lot of us stay home with our children.  And our hard working husbands make that possible.  But, that leaves us at the beckon call of our husbands jobs.  This is not a goodbye for me.  I am Minnesota girl for life, and my husband sells Minnesota real estate (though he would be amazing at selling real   estate anywhere, Minnesota is the market he knows and the place we call home).

This is a goodbye to one of my dearest friends and her family.  They recently found out that her husband was promoted and therefore they will be transferred.  To a new city, to a new church and a new group of moms and kids who don't have a clue how lucky they are to be getting an amazing addition to their circles. 

Saying goodbye is hard.  And especially at this stage.  Travel with kids is hard, expensive and unlikely.  We will stay in touch, I am not worried, but I will miss her.  And her beautiful son who has brightened our lives in so many ways.  I will miss not seeing her every week.  I will miss not living life together.  I will just miss her.

This last month we have been very intentional about setting up times to reflect on their time here and making sure to get in proper goodbyes.  And these goodbyes have been special.  Taking the time to reflect and actually articulate how important we all are to each other has made the goodbye even harder. 

When I told Griffin they were moving and he asked, "are we going to have to take the highway to get there?"  "It's a little further than a highway, Griff," I broke it to him.  "Well, then we'll just have to take an airplane."  I love how kids are problem solvers by nature.  Just so matter of fact.  Yep, we'll just take a plane then.

In the midst of solving problems, they are also completely irrational and creative.  One of Griffin's biggest concerns about their move was that they wouldn't be Viking fans anymore.  I couldn't break it to him that they were never Viking fans to begin with, but the conversation went something like this. 

Griffin singing, "Oh, there once was a girl named Hattie, she was not from Cincinnati..."  "Griff, Do you remember when I told you our friends were moving?  Well, they are moving to Cincinnati." 

Long Pause.....

Griffin: "So, they are going to have to be Tiger fans?"  He had just seen the Bengals in the wildcard game and remembered they wore tiger helmets.  I told him that they would probably stay Eagles fans and maybe they would hold a special place in their hearts for the Vikes.

At one our countless evenings together, my friend mentioned that she and her husband were struggling with feelings of not wanting to go, not being excited about the next phase and having a hard time finding joy in the midst of the sadness of leaving.  While it doesn't surprise me that these feelings are real, this is one of her biggest strengths.  We've seen each other through a lot these past few years and I've seen first hand how sadness over one thing and happiness over something else can coexist.  She is such an example to me of steadfast faith, trust and love.

So, to my dear friend and her wonderful son, the sadness will fade and new adventures await.  New friendships will form, you'll find a new church, big things are just around the corner.  And while you will go through the biggest change, we are all left changed, too.  Changed from the impact you've had on our lives, changed from the things you've taught us, how you've loved us and how you have lived life with us. 

We will miss you deeply, my dear friend.  And, I guess we'll just have to take a plane.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Archie: 4 months

This is a big milestone for us.  4 months is typically the peak/worst Archie's laryngomalacia will get before it starts to sound better.  Woohoo.  And really it isn't as worrisome as it was at 6 weeks.  Now it's really just snoring.  And I do think it affects his sleep, as he still startles from large snorts in the middle of a deep sleep.  But all in all, we're on the up and up...floppy airways no more.

Happiest, smiliest baby doesn't do justice to this guy.  And while he's just starting to get into toys, he prefers people, any face will do.  When you make eye contact with him and give him a smile, he doesn't just smirk or give a gentle grin, he smiles with every ounce of his being.

 And he's always so alert.  His eyes so wide and attentive.  You can't slip a fast one by this guy.  I haven't yet successfully snuck out of his room without him noticing.  And his collar is appropriately wet, even five minutes after dressing him because he drools constantly and tries to eat his hands and his shirt and... anything he can grab.
Archie is still a good little eater, super content to be my arm candy wherever we go, loves watching his brother and sister and is happy as long as someone is around.  We won't give him the sleeper award, though he's not terrible, he's not the best either.  As I said, I do think some of it is related to his breathing, some related to bad habits recovering from influenza, and some of it is just who he is.  We are working hard at eliminating a night time snack that reappeared after his bout with the flu.

 Archie has the cutest little dimple in his right cheek.  He got it from Nate.  It's adorable.  His eyes are already so intentional.  He makes great eye contact and they seem to want to tell you something.  I could stare at them all day.
 

 His two biggest admirers are these knuckle-heads who crashed his picture session.  Griffin and Hattie both find moments of the day to spend time with Archie.  I'll look over and find Hattie laying under the playmat with him, talking to him, narrating what he's doing.  Griffin is more intentional and talks to him, tries to make him smile and laugh and then tells me what he did.  The love they have for each other leaves me speechless.
 
Milestones: just smiling and laughing (the two best milestones?!), just working on tummy time, starting to hold weight on his legs, can sit in the bumbo and is nowhere near sleeping without a swaddle.
But this little face, Oh my sweet little Archie.  You light up a room instantly and I want to be around you all the time.  Even in the middle of the night when I want sleep so bad, I still love being with you.  How could you not want to be with him, what he looks back at you like this?