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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That Nathan

Nathan said something funny at Christmas and I forgot to mention it: While skyping (free video conferencing via the internet) with my brother Matze and my mom, Nathan and Abigail opened their Christmas presents from my family in Germany. My mom sends huge boxes with lots of goodies, so I sometimes lose the kids in this endeavor. :-) Nathan had unpacked two Playmobil figurines that he loves and couldn't tear himself away from them any longer. However, I tried to get him to pay attention as to what else my mom had sent. Yes, I'm still delusional like that. :-) So I took a bath towel out of the box and asked him to take a look at it. He came over, obviously torn to step away from his beloved Playmobil knights. He grabbed the towel, pressed it into his chest as if it was a long-wished for treasure, exclaimed "I love it!!!", turned around and threw it in the corner. It was so funny. We've never seen him do anything like that and couldn't help but laugh about it.
The next day when we were celebrating Christmas at Grampy's house, it came time for him to open a pirate ship he's been wanting for months. (Disclaimer: I put up with it because the only pirates he knows are the Veggie Tales or Little People, so all pirates are good.) Anyways, he loves the Little People ship he got from my mom last year and he's been eyeing this new one at the store for a while now. When his uncle got it for him, he was so excited and yelled: "It's what I've always wanted." It's just so funny to hear your child exclaim those words for the first time. Especially one usually unemotional 3-year old. Calm and collected may be a thing of the past and excitement is now the thing. It's too cute.
And while Nathan is exploring all these new feelings, faked or real, Abigail herself has entered the whiny stage. :-) As I've previously mentioned, she used to practice cry faces and sounds in any reflective wall item. Now we know for what. That girl can break anyone down with the whiny-crying face and sounds, except her dad who aludes her manipulative powers. That's when she non-stop whines for mommy. But do not fear! We are taking precautions and putting an end to it right away!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Aftermath

Christmas was just beautiful this year. On Christmas Eve Dave's best man Kevin came over and gave some presents to our kids. He likes to give them gifts that would annoy parents such as 100 plastic balls or crying baby dolls. However, Abby's baby doll is really cute and we are not annoyed. :-) The kids loved playing with him and Abigail adores him (as she does with most people she knows to be honest). She gets very attached to her peeps! :-) Nathan always enjoys seeing Kevin. He also enjoys talking to Kevin about his pick-up truck and his motorcycle. Much to Kevin's dismay, Nathan likes to re-enact Kevin's "accident" he had in our driveway.

Either way, after the visit, we had a little mishap with dinner. To say the least, it wasn't as festive as I had hoped and let's just leave it at that. :-) We still had a fabulous evening together with just the four of us. We "unwrapped" baby Jesus' gift from us to him. Then we caroled while the kids accompanied us on a music table they got from my friend Karen. It definitely didn't sound pretty, but we loved every minute of it! The kids didn't even grow tired of it, it held their attention through various songs. We basked in the dim and colorful lights of Christmas, lit candles all throughout the house, watched a Christmas show and just spent time with each other. It was perfect. After the kids went to sleep (and that was hard for Nathan) David and I spent comfy cozy time together for the rest of the evening.

The next morning was probably the last Christmas Day morning that we'll ever wake up before our kids do. We had to wait until 7:30am!! But we spent the time listening to Christmas songs and watching a Yule Log burn on TV. :-) We explored our stockings and opened Santa's present that he left in celebration of Jesus' birthday. Read the letter Santa left and made sure there were cookie crumbs left and that he had drank his milk. Santa did a fabulous job choosing stocking stuffers and gifts. However, we didn't have much time and packed to go to Grampy's house. The pictures below will re-tell most and they are actually going backwards in time, so bear with me. :-)



My wonderful husband's so very thoughtful gift: A donating to charity bag David will mount to a wall. I have permission to raid his wallet at will and put all cash in the bag. Once a month the kids and I will choose what to do with the funds. I love this. Probably the best gift ever!








Santa is so thoughtful too. He knows my affection for cherry pockets and cherry streussels. I heart Santa!



Some of our favorite Christmas CD's and I think David's favorite overall. Nathan is so much like his daddy. He's running around the house imitating that deep beautiful voice of Mr. Armstrong. Like father, like son.




Tired babes toward the end of a very eventful day. Love it when they are so cuddly.




Grampy is very fond of cuddly babies as well. :-) Here are two overtired angels, probably giving Grampy the best Christmas present.




Abigail liked being a Rudolph for about 2 minutes but this is a cute picture of her and her uncle. (And yes, she has him wrapped all around her little finger. A sad face and a wimper will make him do whatever Abigail wants.)





Rudolph the red-eyed reindeer????




Nathan is very fond of Rudolph and "Abigail" got him this for his present. It's a light-up Rudolph nose. As you can see, he was very happy.




Even the deer visited. What a peaceful sight to see these beautiful animal just sit down and feel so save.




How can one little girl make such a mess with so little chocolate????




Grampy's "edible" Christmas tree. He loves the idea of having the kids go and grab candy off the tree whenever they want.



Grampy's stockings.





Santa left mommy a ton of wax tarts! Since Santa had a budget, he hid them in everyone's stockings so that mommy could have them despite the budget. That Santa!




Stockings at our house.




What a start to a day! Little cutie pie in her Christmas PJs just smiling at us as she wakes up.







Santa left a letter for us after reading Nathan's and daddy's letter for him. He ate all his cookies and had his milk.







Nathan and Abigail making music.




Our beautiful manger made by my husband who has taken this on after my brother Matze "handed" down the tradition my father was so proud of. Thank you baby for doing this every year! The kids loved it and this year Nathan really got into it.....




.....Maybe a little too much? :-) We laughed when we discovered this the next morning.




Lit up.













Definitely a memorable Christmas. Hopefully one that at least Nathan will remember and that will put down the groundwork for many to come. Hopefully we taught him about Jesus, God, to help other and to end it with a peaceful and joyful celebration. And added many traditions that they will cherish.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all and Froehliche Weihnachten!!!

At our house, we adore Christmas. Something that has been instilled in us by our parents and that we are proud to pass on to our children. It's been a busy season and here are some of the highlights.

Penguins made for grandma by the kids out of water bottles, craft foam, eyes, and fabric scraps:


My yearly treat from David's company for doing their books for free! I love Starbucks chai tea lattes and this is a yearly treat I cherish. Thanks guys!


Another craft project. Edible Christmas ornaments made out of hard candy. Instructions can be found on http://www.foodtv.com/ if you search for the Edible Christmas ornaments by the Neely's. Great idea for my candy-obsessed children! They are now hanging from grampy's tree and I have to say, although we couldn't find jolly ranchers, these peppermint candies came out really nice.


Abby pouting (she's not really, she's practicing again). Abigail practices different facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. :-) It's hilarious but I'm sure will backfire on us in the teenage years. In her pretty little dress with her pretty little elf hat. Who wouldn't want an elf that cute???


Couldn't resist this christmas nightgown. Loved seeing my little curly haired red-head running around in it.


Christmas tree ornaments. This was really a fun project and the kids love it. They painted, glued and made a mess. Nathan's are the ones with little ornaments on them. He's a purist. Abby just put them whereever I was willing to put glue. This was one of our first projects where the kids worked with each other and where very patient. Fond memories.


Nathan proudly showing off his creations.


No Christmas season should be complete without the messiness of a good ol' gingerbread house. The kids had a BLAST decorating this and eating half the candy while doing so. Our dentist would not be proud.... They had so much fun though. One thing we learned, Nathan does NOT like peppermint candy.


A sight more often seen our house lately. The kids are playing more and more with each other every day. Here they are playing "sleeping", one of Abigail's favorite games. She loves to pretend to sleep. Nathan's favorite game currently is to re-enact the newest show he's seen on TV or story he's read. That currently is either Wall-E or Disney's Prep and Landing, a show about two elves needed to prep a home for Santa's arrival. They have been allowed to watch a whole lot more TV these days. Usually they won't see much TV at all, so Nathan has been enjoying every minute of it and is still not tired of it. Their favorite TV shows are Fireman Sam and Word World.


My other cute elf, oh sorry, I meant handsome. He's been wearing a lot of hats lately. Either this one or a military hat he got from my brother Matze (that is especially when he's pretending to be the elf from Prep and Landing mentioned above). Nathan is VERY excited about Christmas this year. It should be oh so very exciting for us to watch. Not sure he'll be able to sleep tonight.


Oh, and the best thing??? David has 5 (!!!!!) days off. How awesome and amazing is that? When does that happen? The poor man always works. So to say that I'm thrilled is an understatement. I cannot wait for tonight, when it's dark outside, the Christmas lights are on,t he tree lit, the little eyes glowing, music playing. It'll be heavenly. Peace and joy and goodwill to men. No better way to say it, no better way to deliver it than through a babe in a manger. Hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday My Wonderful Man!

Yesterday we celebrated the most wonderful husband's birthday. The only thing he wished for was his much-loved crab and of course he got plenty of that. :-) The kids surprised him with their version of the Polar Express train filled with white Lindt chocolates and home-made rice krispy treats. All of the US side of the family came to celebrate and it was a very nice evening, accompanied by German lasagna and Ratatouille (thanks to my mom and Matze & Mandy).
But what I was mostly wanting to write about is just how amazing this man is that I'm married to. He's not only re-directed my life (I was in a pretty sad spot when I met him), he's completely turned me around and made me into a life-loving, truly happy person. I cannot thank you enough for that! But as if that were not enough, he is an amazing father. He can get his son to do anything with a smile on his face (this power eludes me) and just the mere mention of "old MacDonald" can get our girl out of any cry, no matter how sad. His children adore him and that of course makes the mama happy. He works hard, has made his own business working from home so he can spend more time with us, makes quality time count, is funny, athletic (a family joke), handsome, helpful, a gentleman, conservative, strong in his believes, strong for us, and the list could go on and on. I'm very blessed to be married to such an outstanding man. Happy Birthday, babe!
How to make my man happy? Crab!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our First Parent Gift!


At church today Nathan made an ornament with a manger scene in the picture window. They sprinkled glitter on it and when the Sunday school teacher gave it to me, I got really excited. Nathan didn't realize the importance of this ornament at first but quickly got into it. :-) This is our first present from Nathan that he made without our help. Nathan proudly hung it on our Christmas tree, right in the front. it's a perfect ornament too, it has a manger scene inside, is a star, is red and has lots of glitter! It's funny to me how such a gesture just made my morning and how exciting it was. By the way, I LOVE our church. This is just one more reason... I will post pictures later.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Traditions

This year David and I want to make sure we establish Christmas traditions with our littles ones. So far, it's been a wonderful season. We try to do crafts, bake, make delicious foods, have lots of cocoa (with whipped cream as per Nathan), watch Christmas movies (Nathan loves Rudolph while Abigail just wants to watch "Firefighter Sam" or "Barney" - not Christmas related), go to see Christmas lights, make presents for others, give to Salvation Army every time we shop at Fred Meyer, hopefully find some snow, decorate the tree together, put up our manger, read Christmas stories, listen to lots of Christmas music. Some things we are already to busy for but others we will still definitely do. Even the ones we miss, such as a live manger scene due to cold weather, are at least going on a list for next year. We still have to decide what to put on our yearly engraved ornament and order it. We still have to decide what gift to give to Jesus on Christmas Eve (my favorite tradition). We'll still have to help grampy decorate the tree and many more presents to make. I will still meet with my dear friends Karen and Margie for lunch. We will still put up our manger and put the angel on top of the tree. Still need to bake loads of cookies and eat them. :-) Most of all we need to do lots more relaxing with lights turned off, Christmas lights on and just enjoy the glow of the season. That is my favorite memory of Christmas as a child: Sitting in front of the lit tree in a dark room, seeing snow piled high outside the window, the manger peacefully depicting the scene of Jesus' birth and just being with my family and feeling peace, joy, and wonderful stillness.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where Have All The Curls Gone?


Our curly-haired girl woke up a few days ago and ever since has curls no longer. It's the strangest thing and I have even been accused by insane uncles that I was flat-ironing Abigail's hair. She looks so totally different. My mom had predicted this all along but we all didn't see it coming overnight. So it will be interesting to see if this is temporary and she will return to her Shirley Temple curls or if the curls are truly gone.
While the curls themselves were somewhat challening, with them being gone, her hair in the back is quite a disaster. :-) It is not curly anymore but doing it's own weird thing and is not to be tamed. She also sleeps on her back faithfully which makes the hair situation more difficult. Once her hair will grow in a lot more and it'll get longer, I can see already how beautiful it could be. Even with the super straight hair, it only underlines the golden shine in her red hair. It's gorgeous. Now I just have to learn how to make little girls' hair. :-)

Update 12/18/09: This was just a temporary thing. Apparently when it got super cold here, there was so much static electricity in the air (picking up a blanket was met with electric shock...). A friend of mine pointed out to me that this would be making abby's fine hair straight. And she was right. As soon as normal wet weather returned, so did the curls. Strange, uh?

Monday, December 7, 2009

All Things Christmas-y

My mom sends tons of sweet treats for the Christmas. These are all things I grew up with and they instantly make me feel like a child at Christmas when I just smell them. Here are just a few of them. Lebkuchen is a very yummy treat. It's like a gingerbread (very soft) and comes with all kinds of variations. These are chocolate coated.

Christmas treats from my mom all the way from Germany. Marzipan, a German Christmas staple. She likes to send me Marzipan "potatoes". I can never stop eating them....




It has becme a tradition to go see the lights on the raceway. We also all have our own Santa or elf hats and slippers. On our way to the raceway lights and there:






It's been so busy lately between all things Christmas-y that I haven't been able to write it down as fast as it has been happening. And I really wanted to keep good track of the Christmas season. I've come to the conclusion that it's better to make the memories even if you cannot capture them all. It's been a VERY fun Christmas season. Nathan is so very excited this year. I decorated his room and he thanks me for it almost every night. We all love going out for a drive and look at lights that people put on for the season. Even Abigail gets excited yelling all the different colors of the lights around the gutters of houses. I think that is all she can see from her car seat..... Mostly, we've been doing so much as a family and that just feels so great. David has been able to steal more time at work than usual. Normally it is mostly overtime but this year he has made it a priority to take at least one day of the weekend off. David surprised me with going Christmas Show at the Expo Center, just me and him. That was followed by a very nice dinner. With the kids we've gone to wildlife refuge a few times, the International Raceway with Grandma, looking at lights with Grampy, getting a Christmas tree and decorating the house, baking cookies and making crafts. It's been really magical.

Another treat of the season: Lots of Christmas TV shows for these TV-starved children.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blessed

Two beautiful children all dressed up by Grampy and my crab appetizers a la Ellie Krieger


My contribution to the feast (made from scratch yeast rolls, baked bread - not from scratch, cranberry sauce - from scratch as well as corn casserole and sweet potato casserole):















If there is anything I know, it is how blessed I am. Although my human nature won't always let me enjoy that wisdom (such is human nature), I know that I am blessed every second of my life. Never once has even a doubt crept into my mind about this. And there aren't too many things I'm that sure of. Obviously David is the biggest blessing, then there are those two little beautiful babies in our lives, we are all healthy, our extended families we are thankful for (parents, siblings, their wives and girl-friends, Uroma). There are so many other things too: My bible. Church and having found one that you also love for your children. Also obvious would be Chai tea in all its various forms. Or lets just say a warm cup of tea that warms your body through and through. Knitting - the cheer pleasure it brings. Scrapbooking - what a marvelous way to keep track of your memories as well as that fabulous digital camera. Blogging is a great way to preserve memories. I love my little menthol lip balm, how it tingles on the lips. Comfy clothes, warm blankets and snuggly beds. Hugs and kisses. Yummy food. Laughter in our house. Warm wishes from friends on Thanksgiving via e-mail. Abigail and Nathan both brushing their teeth without any complaints (on the same day!!). Bread. My new fabulous slippers. A good pair of jeans. Knowing it's 8pm, the kids are in bed and you get to snuggle up on the couch with your wonderful hubby. Smoothies. Days when you really love eating lettuce and veggies. Oh, an all-time favorite: Christmas! Even better?? Snow on Christmas Eve. Heaven! Yarn that feels good, being able to make hand-made presents. Cooking! Quilts and making them. Sewing. Playing the piano. Learning. Christian music. Beth Moore and her bible studies. My friends. A small kitchen. Roses, dahlias or hydrangeas blooming in your garden. Potato soup and how much David loves it. Books. My tea cups. My purse. My marriage. The laptop. Little kids who are slowely becoming my kids' first friends. And yes, good Thanksgiving days like the one today. Family and friends at Russ' house with real yummy food. The kids had a blast and did really well, even without naps. Abigail charmed everyone and looked so darling in her little dress. Nathan just kept everyone busy and was such a good boy. He got a whistle from Kevin and had so much fun with it. So did Abigail. Not so much with the sound like Nathan but more with the air hole at the top blowing wind in her hair. Girls! David translated for me most of the day as I have laryngitis (oh what fun!) but he was so sweet. One time he ran to the store for me and got me a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks! Then he went on a search for Chlorasept. What a man. Thank you baby and I love you. I am VERY thankful today.

The feast: Yummmm....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Schokoladen Liste (List of chocolate in order of liking)


Nathan:
Kinder Ueberraschung (chocolate eggs)
Schokoladen Lutscher (aber er hebt sie jetzt fuer Weihnachten auf????) (chocolate suckers made fully of chocolate)
Schoko Muenzen (nicht die karamell)(chocolate money)
Kinder Schokoladen Riegel und Weihnachts Riegel (chocolate filled with white filling)
Weisse Schokolade (white chocolate)

Abigail
Kinder Ueberraschung
Kinder Schokoladen Riegel
Yogurette (chocolate bar filled with yogurt)
Haben noch genug yogurette, also wissen wir noch nicht was als naechstes kommt (we still have enough of the yogurette so we have no idea what is next on her list).

Monday, November 23, 2009

We Love Cooking

We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving. Although we are just getting over a strange sore throat/fever episode, we are definitely ready to move toward the yearly feast. Even Nathan is excited this year. Lorena has asked for some help this year and she caught me right in a phase of my life where I am obsessed with cooking. So the plan is to try and make my first yeast rolls from scratch, a wonton-crab salad appetizer, a corn casserole as well as a sweet potato casserole and a simple green salad with cranberries and walnuts to make it more seasonal. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Will my little sous chef Nathan help me? No matter what the outcome, it'll be so much fun!

Deutsche Uebersaetzung:
Wir freuen uns schon alle sehr auf Thanksgiving am Donnerstag. Obwohl wir gerade noch am Ende von einer Halsweh/Fieber Episode sind, sind wir auf jeden fall bereit, uns in das jaehrliche Fras Frest zu stuertzen. Selbst Nathan freut sich dieses Jahr. Lorena hat dieses mal um Hilfe gebeten und hat mich gerade im Kochrausch angetroffen. :-) Also hier ist der Plan: Selbstgemachte Broetchen (keine gekaufter mix), Wonton-Krabben Bissen, Mais Auflauf, Suesskartoffeln Auflauf und ein gruener Salat mit Walnuessen und Cranberries (um den salat mehr saeison-maessig zu machen). Habe ich mir mehr vorgenommen wie ich machen kann? Wird mein Sous-chef Nathan mir helfen? Egal was passiert, es wir ein Heiden-spass!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Day With Nathan


Today, thanks to my wonderful hubby and his great ideas, we had a Mommy and Nathan only morning. After much debate, I decided to take him to the Dollar Tree to pick up a new puzzle and then to the mall for a caroussell ride. This was so exciting! So off to the Dollar Tree we went with a quick stop at Wendy's for a cheeseburger that he had requested. Lunch at 10am? Why not! :-) While we were driving Nathan kept asking where the "puzzle store" was, probably about 10 times minimum in a 15 minute drive. So there was excitement after all! We strolled through the Dollar Tree, looked through quite a few puzzles, picked 4 (yep, I can't say no!), strolled through the toy isles discussing various toys, picking some craft kits for presents and then paying. We went to the Learning Palace (Oh do I love this store!). They have a great Thomas the Train setup we played with for a while. Nathan was definitely having fun and I can't believe I walked out of there spending only $2! Originally the plan was to go to the mall and ride the caroussell there but then Nathan decided he wanted to go to the library instead as they have awesome dinosaur toys. Happily I drove him there where we checked out books about fire which he's been reading ever since and played lots with dinosaurs. On the way home I asked him if he had fun and he said yes. When I asked him what his favorite thing to do today was (and I thought he'd say getting new puzzles) he answered without hesitation: "Playing with you mommy". Made me teary-eyed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nathanisms


To Abigail after she kept throwing his puzzle pieces down: "Are you not my friend anymore."

"The poblice is going to get the bad guys and then I'll beat them (bad guys) up!"

"Why did you put that on my plate? I don't like that!" (every night...)

"good-night-I-love-you-have-a-good-night-night, good-night-I-love-you-have-a-good-night-night!"

"I need some Lucky Charms to help me feel better." (with sad face but he couldn't keep it up and busted up laughing"

"I'm not having a good day/night-night"

"I'm a big, bad dada ______ (t-rex, crocodile, etc.....)."

banania - banana

Older ones:

At first meeting with new moms club he yells across the playground: "We're pirates and we're going to kill Abby."

"I very, very love you."

Friday, November 13, 2009

30

Today our smart little boy figured out how to count to 30! However, if you ask him to count to 30, he will assure you that he cannot do it. He can only count up to 20 and then "down" to 29. We are blessed beyond words with the cutest little children and a wonderful, loving marriage. Father, I am truly grateful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday

This year's birthday cake was a Barney cake (her favorite show) with German marshmallows in pink mice shapes and colored gum drops.

The birthday girl, all cute.

Apparently that cake was good. :-)



Abigail with the hat I had knitted her and the hat I had knitted for her bear.





A very proud daddy with his cute little girl and her two hats:


Yesterday was Abigail's second birthday. Wow, two years have come and gone. It's crazy how fast the time passes when you have children.
The morning started by David and I anxiously waiting for our baby girl to wake up. But no sound was heard through the baby monitors. Nathan started to stir and when David sneezed downstairs, we heard a happy "bless yiou dada" from Abigail's baby monitor. So we rushed upstairs, picked up Nathan and then picked up the birthday girl, while serenating her the first of many "happy birthday" songs. She quickly caught on and wished everyone a "happy birthday" as well. In the late morning Matze and Mandy skyped with us and got many laughs watching the kids. They told us about their new place that they are so excited to move into. My mom was next on the skype list and the kids had a blast opening her package (probably not as much as I had though). While the kids napped I finished frosting the Barney cake and made my two casseroles as well as my bread. The kids just love it when everyone's here because they never run out of people to play with them. Nathan likes to re-inact scenes from movies (Bambi, Cars) or stories (david and goliath, Rikki Tikki Taffi) with lots of freedom of interpretation. :-) Abigial just likes to be around people and talk to them or be carried around. It was a very wonderful evening with loads of presents, good food, ok cake and great company.
But how has this little girl changed our lives? She's definitely brought more gentleness and kindness into our world. We are living with constant music and she loves to sing. She's always bouncing, jumping and dancing. Her constant companions are a little worn pink bear (which Grampy gave to her on the day she was born) and a little lamb called "lamby" (given by Matze and Mandy). She's a giver of hugs and kisses ("big one!" and "ohhh"). She makes our hearts melt with her little smile, her big eyes and the smile in her big eyes. She's a red-head for sure: She knows what she wants and how to get it. She's got temperament. There is a chance she'll be trouble when she gets older, but hopefully, she'll always be as sweet as she is now. We love you Abigail. Happy Birthday.