Thursday, November 29, 2012

Family Pics

A few weeks ago had some family pictures taken! I've had the CD for awhile, but it's taken me awhile to get them on my computer so I can share! The kids were about 7% cooperative this particular afternoon, so it's a miracle that we even got a few good ones. Photos were taken by Dani Gillihan Photography (the same gal who took our awesome Halloween pics!).

My fave

Notice Jackson's face? This was his expression most of the shoot...

When Jackson wouldn't cooperate at this pose, Belle was MORE than pleased to step in and do it. 

We got a few silly smiles out of this kid. This is his "smile for the camera" smile.

I love when she touches my face to get my attention. 

I love this pic of Derek and me too! :)

And these two shots reminded me of some family photos we had taken three years ago. 



I just can't get over how big he has gotten! In the first pic, he was so little that we had to bend down to hold his hand! And now, he's so tall and practically graduating from high school. :)



I love our little family. Thanks for the great pics Dani. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Christmastime!!

I love, love, love Christmastime! I think I've passed on the excitement to Jackson as well. He asked about the Christmas decorates before Thanksgiving and he was thrilled when it was actually time to dig them out! He has very high hopes in regards to decorations both inside and outside though house. We normall only put up a tree, stockings, and a nativity but if his Christmas excitement keeps up-- then we might have to get a little more festive. But seriously, it makes me happy to see him with so much Christmas spirit!

And let me introduce you to our neighbors... This house lights up the whole block every year. All the previous years, we've oohed and aahhed over the pretty lights. But THIS year, every time we drive by Jackson just says, "See that?! That is exactly what I want our house to look!" Yeah right, kid.

And now that Thanksgiving is officially over, I can share the pics of the kids and Santa from when we visited Bass Pro a few weeks ago. 

We talk a little about Santa, but we haven't ever really focused a lot about him. As we approached Santa at the store, I simply told Jackson to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas. Before I know it, Jackson has interrupted another family's photo op to talk about Bumble Bee and Optimus. ;)

There is a lot of discussion in families about believing/not believing in Santa. Derek and I have talked about this and are still figuring out how we want to do things. But one thing is for sure, instead of making Santa a judge of good and bad to threaten good behavior, I want to use Santa to teach about grace. God's grace. This lays the perfect foundation for kids to understand that God's gift of Salvation is not earned, but is a gift that we can choose to accept. So instead of conversations like, "Santa's watching.... You better behave!", I want have conversations like, "That might not have been a good decision, but Santa may still bring you a present anyway because gifts aren't things you earn, they are given because people love you." 

I have a list of things that I want to do over the next month to celebrate my favorite time of year! Some are just fun traditions, but most are about teaching the kids to focus on others! I hope I can make most of them happen. {I know myself too well to think I'll accomplish them all!}The one benefit of having the internet down for a couple of days this week is that I got my Christmas card and newsletter all complete... and it's not even December yet! It's amazing how productive I can be without the distraction of the internet!!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Thankful

I love Thanksgiving! I enjoy the food, time with the family, and just the overall attitude of gratefulness! I have so much to be thankful for in my life. God has blessed me with a wonderful family-- the one I was born into, the one I married into, and the one Derek and I created together! I am forever thankful for the pretty conventional stuff like my home, our health, working cars, jobs, my education, our church, the freedoms we posses in this country and the list could go on and on and on! But I'm also super thankful for other things that are super relevant in our life right now, even if they may seem a little silly.

  • Our community
  • Netflix
  • Our Babysitters
  • Mismatched socks
  • Grocery Stores Kid Tactics
I had entire descriptions for each of these things, but then I realized that the post was about as long as some short books. So, I'm keeping it short today, but I will be back to talk about these! I asked Jackson to share what he is thankful for: One: Mom and Dad. Two: his blankets. And then when I absolutely made him chose a third, he added Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee. I asked Belle what she was thankful for and she said cheese and candy. True story. 

We are still over in across the state with family and last night, right around 10pm, we decided to make our way downtown for annual St. Louis Thanksgiving day parade. It was SO much fun!! We drove into a closer suburb and then hopped on a train to take us downtown. 

When you add a train ride + giant balloons + marching bands (mostly that's just for me) + yellow "Bumble Bee" cars + candy = the coolest morning ever for the kiddos. 

(and yes, Jackson is wearing a Kansas Jayhawk sweatshirt and yes, it makes me a little ill to know it will forever be etched into the memory of this Thanksgiving. But we only packed a heavy duty winter coat and it just wasn't that cold. So this was all we had to borrow from. At least it's covered in my favorite picture of the morning -- the last one! Oh, and Jackson was wearing his Missouri Tiger shirt underneath, but unfortunately I didn't take any more photos once we came home!!)

(Jackson is a surprisingly good Kazoo player!)

And this is my favorite photo from the morning! I love the Arch in the background.

We had a great day. It's been so much fun visiting our family. And may we never forget the "It's Not Gravy" moment... a story too epic to ever forget. But I'll save Belle the future embarrassment from actually posting the details. :)

Lastly, I'm SUPER thankful that seven years ago today, that Derek proposed! Little did I know that just seven years later that the majority of things on my thankfulness list would all be based on one little question! 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Out and About

Sometimes I wish I was better at blogging individual things that we do so that I don't have super long posts, but.... I'm not, so here's a long post full of photos from our recent outings!

We visited Aunt Ashley a few Saturday ago. Go Mizzou!

Storytime at the library! In the past week, we went to a Toddler storytime for Belle's age group and then another for Jackson's age. Fortunately, both are fun for all the kids! 

We took the kiddos over to Bass Pro the other day. The place is so fun for kids to explore-- do you see the size of that catfish!?!? But then when the kids get bored of looking at the fish in about 4.5 minutes, I'm not irritated that I wasted $50 for our family to visit the actual aquarium. We were surprised to find a whole section of the store for Christmas kid activities, but I don't want to share those until after Thanksgiving.

This isn't an outing, but a special "in-ing". Jackson asked if we could picnic in the family room for lunch last Sunday so I cooked a fancy feast (frozen pizza with mac and cheese) and we dined in the family room!

And lastly, we've been enjoying this unbelievably wonderful fall weather as much as possible! 

Yesterday we traveled over to St. Louis to spend Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law and his family. We got in late last night, but already I've enjoyed baby Eli snuggles and Jackson is having a blast with his cousin, Gabe. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A story about firetrucks

My mom tells good stories. Growing up, she would always tell us stories about our childhood and we ask for her to tell us more and more. Note: the asking stopped upon the teenage years, even though the stories kept being told well into college. Like, seriously. On one college visit, my friends flocked around her like children at story time to listen to her dramatic retelling of my childhood years. However, I guess that goes to show that she's just a good story teller. But I feel like I should get some credit for giving her material in the first place. 

Today, you're in for a treat because Mom has a story to tell. I was merely going to paraphrase, but decided to ask her to write because it will just be better. Turns out, she had already put something together. She's writing today as "Grammy Hat." 

Here's Mom.

And this is Mom, too (the mature one in back photobombing this cute picture...)


Look, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s a…a…a fire truck.  

I am very fortunate to live near my grandchildren. At times Amy will call and say, “do you want Jackson or Belle?" Other times I have to call and say, “I’m coming to get them.”  Either way, I am thrilled to have my grandchildren with me and I take them at every opportunity.

So awhile back, I took my darling little girl to the community center with me to get information about a family membership.  The ladies in the office were nice enough, but the paperwork was endless.  Suddenly an alarm sounded along with the announcement that the building was to be evacuated.  Men and women came bursting out of the gym.  Moms ran down the hall to rescue their children.  The office ladies scurried about.  I realized my little girl wasn’t by my side. Frantically, I started searching all around. I found her in the hall – right next to the fire alarm!  Loud sirens filled the atmosphere.  In mere minutes, three huge fire trucks and five police cars descended on the community center.  

Oh, my.  

Thinking this was going to cost me my entire life savings, I slowly made my way back into the office.  “Do I need to stay around in case we have to pay for all this?” I asked.  A kind lady responded, “No, you may go ahead and leave.”  As I was leaving, I think she may have added, “And don’t come back," but I can’t be sure. 

When we got buckled into the car and headed home, I asked why she pulled the alarm. Her reply, “Because I wanted to see what would happen." Well, we all found out. 

And by awhile back, I mean 25 years ago. This wasn't my granddaughter, Belle. It was her mother.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

Belle went with me to Trenton to visit Great Grandmothers. While visiting Grandma Dryer, I was sitting down with a cup of tea and a cookie, working a jigsaw puzzle.  In other words, I was experiencing a little slice of heaven.  Grandma, who lives in a senior citizen apartment complex, walked to the window then said, “Come look at this big truck outside.” I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t care about seeing a big truck. However, I could tell she was excited and wanted me to see what she was seeing. I looked out the window and saw, yes, you guessed it – a fire truck.  

Suddenly a wave of deja vu came upon me. I knew my little Belle was responsible for this fire truck. 

Just a few moments before, on our way up the elevator Belle had pushed the alarm. At the time, I wasn't certain she actually pushed it all the way. No alarm sounded. I thought I was being overly anxious so we just continued on so I could deliver the armful of groceries we were bringing to Grandma.

But seeing the fire truck was pretty good proof that something has happened.  

I rushed down the steps, but not before I grabbed Belle for evidence. I asked the kind firemen if they’d come in response to an alarm on the elevator. After they acknowledge that they had, I thrust her forward and apologized on her behalf.  I mean, she’s much cuter than me. They c didn't hold a grudge and they even let Belle climb on the truck. At least there was only one truck this time. (And no police. No senior citizens frantically evacuating their apartments either.)

So, what can I say?  My girls are full of life even if they take years off mine.


Upon hearing the story from my youth, ad nauseum, I couldn't help but laugh uncontrollably after hearing about this story about Belle. There hasn't been one visit with my parents that they haven't said, "Belle reminds me so much of you!" And I am certain there was a point in time that Mom might have thought, "oh I just wish your daughter would do some of the things that you did.".... only that instead of it happening to me... it happened to her. Again.

I'm still not done laughing.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day!

So I'm a little late, but the message is the same-- we are so thankful for our veterans and everything they (and their families) have sacrificed to make our country great. I'll share some words that were spoken to me from a soldier friend just recently, "I wish people showed their appreciation more than just on this day and Memorial Day." Those were tough words to hear, but I'm sure these are feelings felt by many. While I am always grateful for the work our service men and women do for our country, I may not always be so great at expressing my appreciation. May our words and actions continually show respect and gratitude for these men and women so that no veteran can feel that way. 

We celebrated our favorite soldier yesterday. He dressed in his Class A's for church and boy did he look handsome. And at least a dozen ladies told me so. :) I overheard one lady tell another this morning about the men who dressed in uniform at church yesterday and how special it was to see. I haven't experience a prouder moment than when I get to stand by him in uniform. Jackson was pretty proud too. 

And this morning, we met up with Great Grandpa for our annual Veteran's Day breakfast at Hy-Vee! The food was of course delicious, but I enjoyed getting to explain to Jackson that the breakfast was to celebrate all of the men and women who keep our country safe! He was mostly concerned that no one was wearing soldier clothes...

Just for fun, here's the last two Veteran's Day pics!





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