Thursday, December 30, 2010

Celebrating 2010

We won’t be with our kids tomorrow night, so we had our celebration tonight. I’m feeling a little under the weather, so we kept it really simple (in past years, we’ve made hats, elaborate hors d'oeuvres, and made big signs with the year on them, made it more of a party etc.)

For dinner, I made shrimp using this recipe, a Pioneer Woman recipe modified for the crock pot. I’ve made it two years now while on vacation in Colorado, and the boys (mostly Matt) have requested it at home too. It feels like a special occasion dinner though, so this is the first time I’ve made it at home. It’s really easy, but expensive b/c it’s shrimp…

After dinner, I typed up 11 favorite memories from the past year, and we played charades. Last time we did this, we each (Luke, Matt & I) contributed memories (we divided up the year so there wouldn’t be any overlap). But since Tobin is old enough to participate, I just did all of them myself this year. Then Tobin & I acted as a team, but I didn’t guess, since I knew what all the things being acted were. I wondered how it would work with a 3 1/2 year old, but Tobin LOVED charades, and he’s a pretty funny actor. (I already knew Luke loves it – he’d play charades every night if we could.)

It was a really fun, easy activity – and a fun way to talk about our favorite memories from the past year. I tried to include some from each season/part of the year. And some that included different members of the family. Here’s our list:

  1. Splash Mountain (Tobin’s favorite ride @ WDW)
  2. Hiking in Colorado
  3. The big slide in Colorado
  4. College World Series
  5. Snow Days (this was the first one Tobin & I acted out – he wanted to be a snow man.)
  6. T-Rex Café (Spring Break in Kansas City)
  7. Tobin’s DIRT party
  8. Luke striking everyone out at Baseball
  9. Luke being really scared to go on Mount Everest, then enjoying it
  10. Going swimming at the outdoor pool @ the YMCA
  11. Stinky the Garbage Truck (Tobin’s favorite Christmas present)

While we were playing, brownies were in the oven (again, I didn’t plan ahead at all – we happened to have a brownie mix.) We had brownies and looked at pictures and videos from the past year. We laughed and laughed – some thing we all remembered, but others we had completely forgotten until we were watching videos (Tobin’s Spring obsession with “Pants on the Ground.”)

We finished with talking about what we’d like to give to Jesus in this new year (Mom and Dad would both like to exercise more and eat healthier, and be more patient with their sweet boys!), and prayed and thanked the Lord for the gift of 2010 and the promise of 2011. Yay!

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures I don’t think I’ve shared here, and which gave us a good laugh tonight…

Tobin being silly… during the potty training days, I’m sure.unders 003

Luke and his friend Zane on a climbing trip with Matt to Palisades.

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Tobin “helping” Daddy with yardwork this summer…

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I don’t even know. Tobin in Luke’s old Captain Jack costume… In August.

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And with our friend Kate when her mom Holly came over to make flowers for a wedding their family was in. Needless to say, Tobin wanted to try the flowers out too… Aren’t they the cutest??

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What a fun year it was :). Blessings on your 2011!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snake Charmer

Luke had his first Saxophone concert last Thursday night. He’s been playing the Tenor Sax since September, and has really learned a LOT in just a few months.
I played the clarinet, and Matt was a percussionist, so we were excited when Luke wanted to learn to play an instrument. He wasn’t super interested in joining band or in any of the instruments until last year’s band students came to his fourth grade class to demonstrate & recruit. He really loved the way the Saxophone sounded (he says he likes it because it’s “jazzy”.)
So far, he’s been really great about practicing – that was my one hesitation. If this was going to be one more thing I was going to have to make him do, then I am NOT interested. But he’s been really good about practicing, very motivated by his band director. And he competing with one of his friends from school – they have a “minute-off” to see who can practice the most each week. (I know, right? But at least that competitive spirit works for us sometimes!!)
I have to say I’d forgotten how painful it can be to listen to someone learn to play an instrument. After his first lesson, Luke told me, “Mom, it sounds really terrible. Like a sick foghorn.” I told him I was sure it wasn’t that bad. But I was wrong. It was terrible. And apparently you have to learn to play really loud, and then you’ll learn to play softly later (we’re not to soft yet, by the way.) So Luke would be foghorning away… Tobin would have his ears covered, shouting, “I like it quieter!!”… And the dog would howl (only time in his life we’ve heard him howl – never before, and not since). Meanwhile, I’d be trying to hide my facial expressions from Luke (you can’t help but wince when your ears are assaulted like that!), shouting between each set of “Hot Cross Buns”, “Good job babe!” It gave me a lot of respect for band directors and beginning music teachers. Yikes.
Thankfully, the “foghorn” phase didn’t last long. He’s sounding way better these days, although he still hasn’t learned to play quietly. It makes me laugh – he loves having an audience, so he always wants to practice right in the middle of the living room (usually while I’m cooking dinner.) So he’ll play something, then call, “Listen to this, Mom!” and play it again. I always think, “I can hardly help but listen, babe!” :)
Luke was super excited for their concert, and for his solo. The whole band did a super job at their concert – I was very impressed with how far they’ve come in just a few months.
Here’s a video of his solo – a song from his practice book that he really liked & worked very hard on.

Snake Charmer from Renee Meyer on Vimeo.

Good job Luke!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homemade Baby Jesus

IMG_1284I did the CUTEST craft with the younger kids today (our little friend Sarah was here for the fun).

I saw the idea on one of my favorite blogs, Little Bit Funky yesterday and knew I had to try it. Bonus: I already had everything I needed on hand (I changed it up to fit what I had around the house already.)

You were supposed to use a shoebox for the manger, and cover it with construction paper. But the only shoeboxes we have around are from Matt’s and Luke’s athletic shoes, and they are  HUGE. So…. I went digging through our recycle bin and found what I needed: a Honey Grahams box, and the box from Matt’s Cream of Wheat (gross.) packets. I turned those inside out & taped them back together with packing tape (which we never have when we need to actually pack something because I’m always using it for crafts or to tape books back together.) I turned it inside out so I wouldn’t have to cover the outside, and then cut scrapbook paper to fit the inside, with a little overlap. I cut some yellow tissue paper into strips and we were ready to go.


We used old tights that haven’t been worn in who knows how long– Tobin picked creamy colored ones, and Sarah used some brown tights, so they both have a Baby Jesus that looks just like them. Tobin and I just read a book from the library about a little boy who was disappointed that he couldn’t find an angel for the top of his tree that looked like him – because he was African American, and all the angels are ladies with blond hair. So Tobin really wanted both he and Sarah to have a baby Jesus who looked like them. And if you like that concept, you should totally listen to “Some Children See Him” on Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn’s Christmas album. Love the whole album, but that’s my favorite.

In the tutorial she drew hair on, but I tried something different. I tied a knot in both ends, and left some excess material on the “head” end. I cut those into strips to make a little tuft of hair.


The kids glued the paper lining into the manger, filled it with “straw”, and then helped me stuff their babies with fabric scraps. I drew on the faces and they were ready to be swaddled (with blankets cut from cotton batting left over from Christmas presents I’m making).

I think they came out super cute, and the kids were enchanted with them – and played with them for the rest of the time Sarah was with us. Cute, easy, and using recycled/re-used stuff. Yippee!


She’s saying “Cheeeeese!” Isn’t she a doll?


p.s. In case you’re wondering why Tobin is half-naked… No, it’s not warm here. It’s actually freezing, and sleeting rain as I type. But Tobin likes to go shirtless. Even in dead winter, when I’m wearing several layers, I can hardly keep a shirt on him some days. He’s a Nebraska boy, what can I say?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card 2010 (1) copy

From our family to yours… Wishing you a Christmas celebrating God who is NEAR to us!

Here’s a look back at our 2010 – the year in pictures (1 picture per month!)

JANUARY= Snow and snow days.

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FEBRUARY: Celebrating a DECADE of Luke’s life

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MARCH: Little man turned THREE (and we finally had an end to the snow.)

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APRIL:Finally warm enough for doughboys!

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MAY: Soccer!Last Game - Undefeated 013

JUNE: College World Series!

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JULY: Vacation!

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AUGUST: Summer fun!


SEPTEMBER: Pinkalicious :)


OCTOBER: Saying goodbye, and rejoicing in the gift of Uncle Jon, and the gift of LIFE.Jon & Terry 004

And of course, DISNEY WORLD:


NOVEMBER: Thankful for our sweet family.


DECEMBER: Merry Christmas!!!


** For years Matt has been trying to convince me to do our Christmas cards electronically. I was very resistant because I LOVE receiving Christmas pictures, and couldn’t stand the thought of not sending them out ourselves. But 2 years ago, I added up the total cost – even doing them as cheaply as possible, and cutting our list down severely, it was costing us more than we could afford. So I capitulated. And praised God for the extra room in our Christmas budget, and for not feeling like Jesus’ birthday is putting us in debt (there’s GOT to be something wrong with that picture!) THANK YOU to all of you who send out Christmas pictures, I LOVE them. And hope you enjoy our digital version. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmasy Goodness

We’ve been enjoying all the fun that the holidays bring… I love having kids at all times of the year, but especially at Christmas.

IMG_1192We decorated the house and bought our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Incidentally, we get a real tree, and we only buy them the years we don’t go to Texas for Christmas (because we’ve found it nice to cut back a bit on decorating – and cost – when we’re spending most of the month traveling.) The years we go to Texas, we try to spend almost a week, to really get time with my family in addition to all the festivities around Christmas. On top of that, we have 3 family Christmases to celebrate in Nebraska/Iowa, plus do something with our little family (which usually is last on the priority list.) I always prefer to get to see my family of course. But I’m also relieved to have a calmer December when we’re not making the Texas trip. And it’s nice to have a Christmas tree. :)

Love my Willow Tree nativity (a gift from Luke and Grammie several years ago.)

 IMG_1193 IMG_1194 And our Advent Wreath (which I forgot to buy candles for ahead of time…)  And that’s one of my AWESOME Tabletop Truths placemats on display behind it.


Stockings hung by the chimney with care. Except we don’t have a chimney, so ours are hung by the bookshelf with care. :)

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Tobin got to help put the star on top of the tree. Which he thought was a super fun idea, until he found himself being held out from a rickety ladder leaning precariously out over the tree.

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The boys’ first Christmas gift every year is Christmas PJs. I give them the night we decorate the tree/house. Here’s this year’s set:

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Tobin’s been wanting to make and decorate cookies for about a month now. I told him we could make leaf cookies (I have leaf cookie cutters) in November, but he had his heart set on gingerbread men, so we waited. Not that you can’t make gingerbread men in November… :)

I did manage to mix, cut out, and bake cookies without help(I’ve found that part of the process to be significantly more difficult with 3 year old hands.) I used this recipe, both for the cookies and frosting, and I LOVED it. I only baked half the dough, the other half is double wrapped in the freezer for another time (I’ve found a large batch doesn’t hold the boys’ attention – they get tired of decorating before we’re done. And I want to eat cookies all the time. So it’s nice if there are fewer cookies around!).

After mixing up the frosting I got out all of our sprinkles and decorations, and let the boys go to town.


I think you can really see both boys’ personalities (and age, I suppose!) in their decorating. Luke only got 4 or so decorated – because he meticulously places sprinkles, decorating the trees, putting stripes on the candy canes.

Tobin, on the other hand, dumped almost the entire bottle of colored sprinkles on his first cookie. From that point, I let him spread frosting on each cookie, then we dipped them in the giant pile of sprinkles on his plate. :)


Can you tell who decorated each cookie?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Disney Travelogue #7: Saving the BEST for last :)

Photo0001FourBySixAlmost a month later…. Here are my favorite pictures from Disney World, and some of our favorite moments: Group shots & meeting the characters.

I’m just now posting these because I just got my copies of most of them - My mom bought the rights to all the pictures we had taken by Disney photographers on our photo passes, and we just got them on CD. It was very convenient to just let them take pictures at the character greeting spots, and gave us the opportunity to get some good group shots. But we learned our lesson – we should have been taking our own, just in case. We got a great group shot the last night, with Minnie and Goofy. But something was wrong with Disney’s pictures, so we didn’t get copies of those. I really wish we’d thought to take some with our camera. Oh well…. live and learn!

Yay for fun memories!

Meeting the Little Einsteins (outside the Playhouse Disney Show):


And our favorite: Buzz Lightyear!


This one’s totally going in a frame:


For our last hour @ Hollywood Studios, everyone but Tobin & I went to ride Rock & Roller Coaster a few more times. I took Tobin to check out the character greeting area & hit pay dirt. Almost nobody there but us to meet and greet Disney friends:

Hugs-a-lot from Toy Story 3. Despite the fact that this guy is really EVIL in the movie, Tobin loves “the Hugger”.


I bought him a small Toy Story puzzle this summer. I picked out one with just Woody & Buzz, but Tobin wanted the one with all the characters – because it had this guy. I told him, “No, Tobin, he’s the bad guy.” But he said, “No, Mama, he’s just a HUGGER!”

Sorcerer Mickey – our first Mickey sighting!

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And Chip & Dale (I took this one, so the lighting is terrible!)

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And one of my fave pics from the trip – with Frozone and Mr. Incredible. I wondered how Tobin would react to the characters, since he’s never really experienced that before, and some kids are terrified (used to babysit for a little girl who had nightmares about the Easter Bunny year round.)

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Obviously not a problem. :)

Our first morning @ the Magic Kingdom


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In front of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland – we found Alien versions of Chip & Dale (Oooooookay?)


Our pirate crew headed into the Halloween party: Photo0148FourBySix

And our family’s morning @ the Magic Kingdom by ourselves.

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(The photographer told Tobin to look suprised. Hee hee!)

With pirate Goofy outside Pirates of the Caribbean:

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And some of our best shots, at the character spot at Epcot (Luke was in Spaceship Earth with Nana and Alyssa). Now I just have to decide which ones to print and frame. :)

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Minnie Mouse was a total HIT. He LOVED her, I could hardly get him away.

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I mean, look how happy he is! Are you kidding me?

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And Daddy found us at the end of the line, with Goofy. So I got a picture of THREE Goofys. :)