Sisters, friends, blessed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Despite the multiple inches of rain/snow that threatened to derail our truck from 169 on Christmas Eve, we made it to Southern Minnesota safely and somehow even in time for church! It was very special to be back in the church we were married in over 8 years ago; singing candlelit Christmas carols with the girls and my parents. 

From there we safely made it to my grandparent's home to spend the evening with Oma & Opa (as they are affectionately called by Hadley and Piper). We were also lucky enough to spend it with my Aunt LeAnne (who I am named after!), Uncle Dan, and my cousin Lindsay. The highlight for Hadley was likely the discovery of "debiled" (deviled) eggs and getting to see where Grandma used to sleep, and for Piper it was probably the gift she opened from Oma and Opa... her very own Big Bird!

Christmas Day

It was a quiet Christmas without either of my brothers and their families home, but we know that one day soon we will get to celebrate Christ's birthday together again! 

We began our morning digging deep into our HUGE stockings lovingly made by Pat Dobson over the years, to find that Santa did indeed know we were in MN!  Moments later Piper was already begging at the M&M drawer, "Peeeeee" please!  We then had the Graham's tradtional blueberry muffins for breakfast, before finally breaking into the presents...

Despite the weather and not so nice roads, Great-Grandpa Jerry and Great-Grandma Joan joined us for a lovely lunch topped off by far too many desserts!

The perfect day was capped off by Hadley's first ice fishing experience with Grandpa and Daddy.  While no fish were caught, many good times were had. Including dunking a foot in the hole and having to go to the bathroom (not number one) on the ice!

Saturday after Christmas

We were joined on Saturday by my Aunt Nancy, cousin Katie and her darling 3 month old baby, Audrey.  It was SO much fun to be together all of us girls. 

The day was topped off by a surprise date that Kyle took me on to see the Cirque Holiday Dream show!  And the girls got to spend the rest of the day with Grandma and Grandpa by themselves (I wonder just how many cookies Grandpa let them have:).

Sunday after Christmas

We awoke on our final day of 'Christmas Vacation' to an icredible frosting of icey snow everywhere.  The view from my mom & dad's lake home was incredible. 

We made a special stop out at Dan and LeAnne's home to see my cousin Angie and her family from Ohio before heading back to Wisconsin.  Hadley and Noah are just a few months apart and really enjoyed playing together.  And Piper thoroughly enjoyed checking out adorable baby GeorgiAnne who is just 3 months old.  If you ask Hadley though, her favorite part about the visit was Tucker the dog!

We arrived home to discover that Santa enjoyed our cookies while we were gone and left a few surprises too.  It was a fun evening opening presents just the 4 of us. 

We are are just SO blessed by the precious time we were able to spend with family while in Minnesota (special thanks to Grandma & Grandpa for hosting us and serving us delicious meals 3-10 times a day! We love you).  We are doing laundry now, repacking, and getting ready to head up North for the New Year in just 3 days!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Lights

We spent a fun filled evening in Irvine Park last night.  During the Christmas season the park is transformed into a winter wonderland, filled with sparkling lights and beautiful little holiday displays (its hard to believe that we have seen wild animals in the same park over the summer).  It was the absolute perfect winter night for it; 25 degrees and calm little snowflakes sprinkling down on us.  The girls loved trudging through the snow to see what was next - Santa, Rudolph, Baby Jesus.  Hadley made her first snow angel of the season, Piper squealed with delight as we wedged her snowsuited body into a swing, and Hadley got to experience the thrill (or scare!) of going down a slide in the winter with slippery snow pants on (just a few tears).  And after all that, we ended the evening just as I had as a kid... with an ice cream cone (Missed you Michael & Nathan)!  I know, seems too cold for that in the winter, but I think the girls would agree, it was a perfect end to our family weekend. 

Friday, December 18, 2009


We've had quite a few discussions lately, with Hadley, about whining. After being sick for so long, whining kind of became a habit.  We had to work pretty hard for a few days to get back into a better habit.  Apparently though, she really had been listening to us, as I overheard her telling Benelli, the cat, the other night, "Ba-nell, there is no whining in this house, we only use happy voices!  You won't get any food if you are whining (wah-ning)!"   

I remember my sister-in-law, Kim, telling me when Hadley was born, that her favorite age was 3 because of all the funny things kids say then.  So unscripted and from the heart.  She was exactly right, each day is funnier than the last!  Hadley has apparently been listening to us say other things as well.  She told Piper at lunch yesterday, "You are so stinkin' cute, Pipo!"  She has been telling me "Let's do it, Mom" as we are heading out of the house lately.  And, thanks to her Dad, has been known to tell me, "Nice buns, Mom" as she pats my behind and runs along her way.  For the love!   After splitting a gut when she says some of these hilariously appropriate things, we are reminded over and over again that we had better be SO very careful with what we say! 

On a side note, Christmas came early for the girls this week.  My dear friend, Cyndy (we used to teach together), came for visit and spoiled the girls rotten with lovely gifts!  Hadley has thoroughly enjoyed her new Uno Moo game, and has been running around the house saying, "Uno Muno" ever since.  You can see Cyndy below reading the girls a Christmas book as they snuggled (thumbs and all) right into her.  Its pretty obvious that she is a retired teacher, eh, she looks pretty comfortable reading them a book :). 

Monday, December 14, 2009


Kyle is in love with our 60 acres of land just outside of town. And he'll think up just about any excuse to go out there... making food plots for the deer with his tractor, planting 15,000 trees (no lie), feeding the deer, picking apples for pies (that I get to make), and hunting, hunting, hunting. But when he suggested going out to make some sledding trails for the girls, I had to admit, it did sound like a good use of his time out there!

We knew that our little scardey cat, Hadley, may not enjoy the sledding, so Kyle brought along a few marshmallow (bribes), and lit a fire at the top of the hill to roast them. It was pretty incredible out there with all of the snow covered trees, fading daylight over the valley, and a warm fire to sit around with our little family.

While Hadley did not enjoy her first trip down the hill with Daddy (it ended in a total face plant in the snow) we did manage to bribe her to try it again with me. She was still certain that she "Didn't like it" after that, but did try sliding down the hill on her own little butt later. Piper on the other hand, thought it was a blast, and kept saying "Wee, go, go, go!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scaredy Cat

Our Hadley is what you might call a scaredy cat.  But not always in the way that you or I might be.  For instance, she loves a good wiggly worm and watching the guts get cut out of a deer (totally yucko to me!).  But is scared to death of the noise a vacuum makes.  Last week while sick, I thought it might be fun for her to watch Sesame Street to relax a little bit... too scary!  In these instances, her tears come very quickly and she needs to be hugged a lot (pretty good deal for us!). I've been told, that I was a bit like that as a child (and Kyle is certain he never was, hehe). So that I can remind her of these cute things someday, and hopefully have a good laugh together, I made a little list...

Things that frighten Hadley at age 3 ~
Four wheelers
Lawn mowers
Weed eaters
Snow blowers
Garbage cans being brought in (their noise, not the action)
Seasame Street
Milo & Otis movie
Firemen, especially with masks
Men with facial hair
Jumping, barking, licking dogs
Santa (not the idea of his presents though)
Opening her mouth for the dentist

Things that do not frighten Hadley at age 3 ~
Deer guts
Deer blood
Taking fish oil (yuck!)
Jumping into a pool
Using a log to go to the bathroom at our land!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the mend!

I am thrilled, no ecstatic more like it, as we seem to have Happy Hadley back in the house! She is finally without a fever or a whine today, and is handling her awful cough very well.

Pipey has become quite the little balance queen, doing her very best to sure foot around things without having to fall and put pressure on that little wrist. She seems to have gotten a much milder version of Hadley's sickness thus far. We will continue to pray that's it!

Caught a cute video of Hadley being happy about Christmas today. You might have to turn the volume up due to her little scratchy throat - its pretty quiet, but oh so sweet.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Caught a cute little video of Piper tonight just before bed, hence the penguin pajamas. We were playing Hullabaloo (a hilarious Cranium kids game from Hayden, Sydney and Ava,) and when instructed to "crawl" this is what Piper did... You have to be quick to see it, but you can see her compensating for that broken left arm. Obviously, she is doing quite well with it!


I think that this week just might qualify as a humdinger... As we packed up to leave from Grandma A's over the holiday weekend, Piper was trying to keep up with Hadley, as usual, and pulled herself up onto an ottoman.  Unfortunately, it was a rolling foot stool, and it tipped her right off.  From a distance, the fall looked pretty soft, but did she ever cry!  And it just kept going and going and going.  I attributed it to the four new teeth she had gotten over the holiday weekend (no fun for anyone).  Nearly 45 minutes of crying later, we loaded her up into the truck, and the drive finally lulled her to sleep. 

It wasn't until later that night I noticed how pitiful she looked anytime she tried getting up from a sitting position, it was as if her arms had no muscle strength in them?  She'd instead tip forward and bump her nose, only crying more.  By Sunday, we discovered, after grabbing it WAY too many times, that her little left wrist was red and swollen.  Poor baby.  She still used it to pick up light objects, touch her blankie, and suck her thumb, but she would not put any weight on it and would SOB if we touched it. 

By midweek, Piper had mastered a little compensation plan of her own, using just her forearm to help her along if needed, but never putting any pressure on that little wrist.  In fact, the only time she sobbed anymore was if we bumped it, or heaven forbid tried to put a clean shirt on her!  We brought her in to Kyle's office on Wednesday and tortured her with an x-ray.  She was so tough though, and Hadley kept telling her what a good job she was doing. The x-ray did indeed reveal a break, so we made an appointment with an orthopedic the very next day.  Thankfully, the 'buckle fracture' on her radius did not warrant a cast, and unless she takes another fall in the next few weeks, should heal nicely on its own.  Praise God!

Meanwhile, Hadley woke up with a fever on Tuesday and a very crabby mood, very much unlike her.  I spent most of the morning in a hug drying her tearful eyes.  By lunchtime, the pukes hit (onto me), but her attitude really improved.  There is nothing like watching your child throw up.  She was just so helpless, and kept looking at me with those big blue eyes willing me to make it go away.  (I think I may have shed a few tears that day too, but don't tell anyone.)  Her fever was much higher Wednesday, and was joined by a lovely barking seal cough.  One that if pushed a bit too hard, made her throw up again, and again (and even onto Dad once!).  Thankfully, on the day of Piper's doctor appointment, Hadley's fever had gone down a couple points and her cough even seemed a bit improved.  You can see a picture of her in three layers of clothing on Wednesday (with the temp of 103), and then with Piper at the clinic on Thursday (note the lovely mask she 'got' to wear due to her 'swine flu like symptoms' haha!).

Hadley still has a low grade fever, but is starting to eat a little bit and is handling the cough very well (thanks to a new humidifier in her room). I am now just patiently and prayfully waiting to see if Piper will get her big sister's lovely cold, to turn the weekend into a humdinger as well...

We have much to be thankful for though - SO glad it didn't happen over Thanksgiving, SO glad that Christmas is weeks off, and SO glad that I get to stay home every day to take care of them :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree

While we were up North for Thanksgiving, we spent a little time out in the woods in the search for the perfect branches and berries to decorate our house with.  When the girls get a bit older, we may indeed make another attempt to cut down our own tree like we did the first few years we were married, but for now, we will stick to the tree lot a few blocks from our warm and cozy house (as you can see from our lovely family picture below - sorry about cutting off your head, Kyle, that Piper was none too happy about being out in the cold, hehe!).

A Northern Thanksgiving

We spent a very lovely Thanksgiving this past week up in Northern Wisconsin with Grandma and Grandpa A! It is my 11th Thanksgiving, or more appropriately... my 11th deer hunting season, up North. While I was busy wooing Kyle, I was known to don a little blaze orange and freeze myself out there in the hunt for the biggest buck. I even spent that first Thanksgiving, back in 99', cutting up a deer with Kyle! Several hours into slicing and dicing the legs, Kyle looked over and noticed a small stream of tears coming from behind my glasses. It was not the Thanksgiving I had necessarily grown up with or imagined with my new beau. I was a bit more accustomed to taking a nap during the football game, or rising early to hit the big sales down at Herbergers with my mom and aunts. He took the juicy bowl of blood and tenderloin away from me, and assured me that cutting up venison did not have to be a part of my Thanksgiving anymore. Fortunately, he has been true to his word, and I have not touched (or eaten for that matter) any venison since!
Kyle, unfortunately (or fortunately for me, as my wall space seems to be nearly filled with dead animals as it is... deer, turkey, caribou, bear, bobcat, hmm?) did not find the sought after prize buck this year.  Rats, as Hadley would say!  We did however, get to enjoy the excitement with our 11 year old nephew, Hayden, as he did indeed slay a big 10 pointer (and in his first year out, no less!).  You can see Hadley below gazing up at her big cousin lovingly, as he proudly showed her pictures of the buck.  Hadley once told me that "Hayden is my best, Mom", and I think you can see that in her eyes. And pictured below that, are Piper & Hadley along with cousins Sydney & Ava.

We enjoyed the best Thanksgiving feast in Wisconsin, no lie.  Kyle's sister, Kim prepares the most wonderful meal and serves it at 6:00 p.m., therefore allowing the hunters the most daylight possible.  Even with all of that cooking, she still found time to give Piper a good snuggle. 

The funniest part of the weekend (in hindsight, but NOT at the time) was Hadley's struggle with sleeping on a bed roll versus the usual pack & play.  The entire first 1.5 hour nap at Grandma A's, was an endurance race between Hadley and me - would/could her crying outlast my arm strength as I held her door shut the whole time!  Just before her nap, she and Grandma had made special carmel rolls together, but due to her psuedo nap, I did not allow her to eat it afterward (what a mean mom!).  With the promise of that delicious carmel roll, it took her until her 4th sleep time (naps and nighttime sleep) before she FINALLY sank her teeth into that ooey gooey carmel goodness.  For the love!  She was seen a few times, with her nose just miliimeters above someone else's carmel roll trying to breathe it in! 

The best part of the weekend, for me, was our annual girl's night out!  When we've had just about enough of the hunting talk, we high tail it over to Duluth to enjoy the Lori Line Christmas Extravaganza.  We have been doing this for several years, maybe 7ish, but I have missed the last several while caring for the girls.  It was wonderful to be out again with my mother in law, 3 sister in laws, and 4 nieces to usher out the deer season, and welcome in God's season.  One of these times, we will get a group picture - Love you guys!